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Hot Irish Battles

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Myles O'Reilly

Myles O'Reilly

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Yes Sir. When the 1916 lads went out he was near 60, probably saying "damn kids" to himself!

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Myles O'Reilly

Myles O'Reilly

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The Battle of Dublin began on 28th June 1922 between the forces of the new National army of the Free State and the Anti-Treaty IRA.

For two and a half months, Anti-Treaty units had occupied the Four Courts with their stated intention of upholding the Republic but perhaps also to provoke the British Army which still had thousands of troops in Dublin yet to be evacuated, into attacking them and thus reigniting the War of independence and doing away with the Treaty.

The British were putting pressure on the newly created Free State Executive to remove the irregulars and to implement their side of the treaty in full. Highly decorated officer and politician Sir Henry Wilson had recently been shot dead in London (some say Collins himself had him killed) and the Free State Deputy Chief of Staff Ginger O'Connell had been taken prisoner by the Four Courts garrison. On 24 June the British Cabinet ordered an assault to be carried out by the troops still stationed in Dublin. However General Macready, Commander-in-chief in Ireland, wisely advised not to as it would have had the effect the Irregulars were hoping for.

After an ultimatum issued to Rory O'Connor and his men to evacuate was refused, Collins reluctantly took the decision to act. Emmet Dalton, who was appointed Major General, was dispatched to Marlborough (now McKee) Barracks to receive two 18 pounder guns and ammunition from Macready. Such was the limited experience of operating artillery in the new army, training in how to use the guns was hastily provided by Macready's men.

Battle

The bombardment began at four o'clock on the morning of June 28th. The first days shelling had little effect so two more 18 pounders were procured and on the third day the Four Courts were ablaze with the defenders in a desperate position. During this time an explosion of two tons of gelignite ignited by the fires ripped through the building destroying the public records office and raining centuries of priceless historical documents down on the city. At 3pm on 30th June the garrison surrendered.


Up in Smoke: Part of Ireland's heritage lost forever




The fighting now centered on the area around O'Connell street where the Irregulars had dug in. Their HQ was in a section of buildings called "the Block" which they had interconnected by burrowing tunnels through the walls. The Free State army, using armored cars as cover, moved in and began raking the area with machine gun fire and artillery. They also managed to dig underneath one of the buildings and detonate a mine bringing it collapsing to the ground. Incendiary bombs were also brought to bare leaving much of "the block" in ruins with smoke billowing up into the night sky.

Most of the Irregulars under Oscar Traynor made their escape through the network of tunnels and managed to get away leaving Charles Burgess with a rearguard of 15 men in the Hamamm Hotel to hold out as long as they could. With the hotel shortly afterwards an inferno, Burgess told his men to surrender but refused to do so himself. After his men were clear he drew a gun and ran out the front to be shot and mortally wounded.


Free State soldiers being treated, Dublin June 1922





After the week of street fighting around a hundred people were dead and three hundred wounded. For the second time following the Rising six years before, large parts of the center of the city were destroyed along with the invaluable loss of the public records office.

The Civil war would continue for another 11 months and lead to the deaths of a further 3,000 people before the Anti-Treaty IRA finally surrendered.

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TW Tone

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Today is the anniversary of the murder of Arthur O Leary/Art Ui Laoghaire.
He was an officer in the Austrian Army who came home and married Eibhlin Dubh, Daniel O'Connell's aunt.

Art was shot dead in North West Cork on May 4 1773.

I will leave it to anyone interested to look up further details on the events which led to the killing. The lament, I won't say written, but rather chanted by his wife Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill is perhaps the greatest poem in our Gaelic canon.

There have been efforts to translate it, to English, even to Spanish, but I think none capture the wild fury and passion and rage of Eibhlin's original.

Art is buried near Ovens Co Cork. I visited his tomb a couple of years back, and left a wreath.

Maybe an Irish or foreign film producer could tackle this dramatic and tragic story.

Here's how the Caoineadh begins, Eibhlin is remembering the first day she saw him near the Market House of Macroom. She immediately decided to elope with him.

Mo ghrá go daingean thu!
Lá dá bhfaca thu
ag ceann tí an mhargaidh,
thug mo shúil aire dhuit,
thug mo chroí taitnearnh duit,
d’éalaíos óm charaid leat

i bhfad ó bhaile leat.
 
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Myles O'Reilly

Myles O'Reilly

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Sir, reading Art's story reminded me of the video in a Fleetwood Mac song


 
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Myles O'Reilly

Myles O'Reilly

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In 1599, war had been raging in Ireland for six years with no sign of it abating. To this end Queen Elizabeth despatched Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, at the head of 17,000 troops to try and defeat the Irish.

Essex was a bit of a character. When Elizabeth punched him in the face for turning his back on her, he was about to draw his sword until held back by the Lord Admiral. He said of the virgin Queen she was "as crooked in her disposition as in her carcass".

Essex landed in Ireland in April and proceeded to march through Leinster and on into Munster, burning and pillaging as he went in order to goad the Irish out into battle where they could be destroyed. The rebels harassed him the whole time and only gave battle when it suited them. The English army spent two months marching hither and tither, all the while being worn down by fatigue, illness, hunger and rebel harries.

Frustrated and with money and provisions low, Essex headed back for Dublin but when he reached the Wicklow hills he decided to do a detour around them by the south and to march toward Dublin along the coast. He was reluctant to go through the hills as they were teeming with Irish bands ready to launch guerrilla attacks.

Battle

Having lost many men and left others to garrison forts, Essex had as little as 1,200 men under arms at this point. As they approached Arklow they were confronted by Phelim O'Byrne with a thousand men on the side of a river. The Earl of Southampton crossed in deep water with the horse and the Earl of Ormond led the army over a ford near the sea. The rebels skirmished on the left flank but would not close until they saw the baggage train was vulnerable. When this came up, O'Byrne attacked and a fierce fight ensued. Though the English horse twice drove the Irish back - enabling one of the cavalry captains to rescue the infantry's drums and colours - the small army's morale was beyond help and it broke and fled in all directions once open country was reached. In the battle and the subsequent pursuit most of Essex' force was killed. By the time he and his weary troops reached Dublin there were only around 300 of them left.


Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex




The O'Byrne Clan, Chieftans of Wicklow





Essex remained in Ireland until the end of September but couldn't deliver a decisive blow to the natives. Queen Elizabeth was furious with his failure and when he went back to England she had him thrown in jail. He was released after a year but then went on to attempt a rebellion in London where he was captured and beheaded on Tower Green. Essex was the last person to be beheaded in the Tower of London and apparently it took three strokes by the executioner to complete the gruesome task.

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TW Tone

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Interesting article in the Irish Times (for once).

It poses the question. Should these working-class Dublin patriots be reinterred in Glasnevin? I say they should, under an appropriate monument that memorializes their sacrifice..

 

Catalpa

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parentheses

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Today is the anniversary of the murder of Arthur O Leary/Art Ui Laoghaire.
He was an officer in the Austrian Army who came home and married Eibhlin Dubh, Daniel O'Connell's aunt.

Art was shot dead in North West Cork on May 4 1773.

I will leave it to anyone interested to look up further details on the events which led to the killing. The lament, I won't say written, but rather chanted by his wife Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill is perhaps the greatest poem in our Gaelic canon.

There have been efforts to translate it, to English, even to Spanish, but I think none capture the wild fury and passion and rage of Eibhlin's original.

Art is buried near Ovens Co Cork. I visited his tomb a couple of years back, and left a wreath.

Maybe an Irish or foreign film producer could tackle this dramatic and tragic story.

Here's how the Caoineadh begins, Eibhlin is remembering the first day she saw him near the Market House of Macroom. She immediately decided to elope with him.

Mo ghrá go daingean thu!
Lá dá bhfaca thu
ag ceann tí an mhargaidh,
thug mo shúil aire dhuit,
thug mo chroí taitnearnh duit,
d’éalaíos óm charaid leat

i bhfad ó bhaile leat.
Art challenged his English rival to a duel, but the Englishman was too cowardly to accept. Art was declared an outlaw and hunted down and killed by the English army.
 
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Myles O'Reilly

Myles O'Reilly

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Ford of the Biscuits, 7 August 1594

Fifteen months into the 9 years war a column of English troops sent to relieve Enniskillen castle from the besieging Irish were intercepted and defeated.

Hugh McGurie, Cormac O'Neill and Red Hugh O'Donnell had laid siege to Enniskillen castle three months prior and the garrison were anxious for help. Sir Henry Duke and Sir Edward Herbert set out from Cavan with 600 infantry and 50 horse but had complained to the Lord Deputy that "to go without a thousand men at the least or otherwise we shall dearly repent our going". When the Irish learned of the relief force advancing they marched out from Enniskillen with between 400 (Irish sources) and 1,000 (English sources) men to meet them.

The English column had halted on the banks of the Arney River which was boggy ground forcing the cavalrymen to dismount. The infantry thus had no flank support and were vulnerable to attack from the thick woodland surrounding them. Irish woodkern began harassing from both sides with javelins and darts while the head of the column came under heavy musket fire from behind the high banks. With the English unable to advance further, their rear was now attacked with close range fire followed by a pike charge smashing them into the middle ranks of the column. The English pikemen counterattacked pushing the Irish shot back allowing them to momentarily regain some order.

With fire now raining down from the surrounding hills the English troops started running along the river and the column began to fall apart. Casting their armour and weapons aside they made for a ford upstream, every man for himself. The Irish halted their pursuit, content to pick up the spoils from the engagement which included the English baggage train from where the battle, Ford of the Biscuits, derives its name.

As was often the case casualties were disputed. The English claimed to have lost only 56 killed and 69 wounded. However the Irish said almost the entire formation was wiped out with around 500 slain. Irish casualties were relatively low.

A second relief expedition led by the Lord Deputy managed to reach Enniskillen and re-supply it. However Enniskillen did fall to the Irish in May the following year and the garrison was massacred, despite having been promised their lives when they surrendered.


Ford of the Biscuits


The Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits, 7 Aug. 1594: 1: Irish shot engage and halt the head of the column but are eventually forced to give ground due to a determined English pike charge. 2: Irish shot force in the English loose shot and disorder the pikemen. 3: Irish pikemen and Scots charge into the disordered rear forcing it onto the main battle and then the van. 4: English army makes it to low ground. Under fire from the surrounding heights, the English attack south but are forced to cross further upstream. 5: Incongruously the Irish horse played no part in the battle.






Local lore said that the historians had gotten the Site of the battle wrong. The people living around the area said it happened in a place called Red Meadow (above). And sure enough when archaeologists ran a metal detector along the ground within minutes they'd found two musket balls.


 
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Myles O'Reilly

Myles O'Reilly

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Originally posted by Catalpa

8 May 1567: The Battle of Farsetmore was fought near Letterkenny in County Donegal on this day. The battle was fought between the rival armies of Shane O’Neill of Tir Eoghan (Tyrone) and Aodh O'Donnell of Tir Connell (Donegal). Each side probably had about 2,000 men apiece. The battle began when O'Neill's cavalry crossed the ford at Fearsad-Suilighe at low tide.

Aodh O'Donnell, gathered with his band of loyal followers around the little hill fort of Ard-an-ghaire, dispatched his son, also called Aodh, to hold them as long as he could. The father was expecting reinforcements that very day and if he could just hold back O'Neill's army until he could assemble a force to near match the invaders he would be in with a chance. With his son locked in combat with the van of O'Neill's force he took the opportunity to fall back behind the shelter of a bog across which O'Neill's men could not advance but at a disadvantage.

After a vicious fight in which a number of leading men on both sides fell, young Aodh could hold his position no longer and pulled back to join his father behind the bog. But by then relief was at hand as three war bands of Gallowglass mercenaries drawn from the McSweenys came up to support Aodh O'Donnell in his hour of need.O'Donnell saw his opportunity and without further ado launched his whole force upon O'Neill's men, who were possibly still forming up into a line of battle.

Fierce and desperate were the grim and terrible looks that each cast at the other from their starlike eyes; they raised the battle cry aloud, and their united shouting, when rushing together, was sufficient to strike with dismay and turn to flight the feeble and the unwarlike. They proceeded and continued to strike, mangle, slaughter, and cut down one another for a long time, so that men were soon laid low, heroes wounded, youths slain, and robust heroes mangled in the slaughter.

Annals of the Four Masters - 1567

How long this brutal melee lasted we do not know but eventually O'Neill's army was forced back onto the riverline and there it buckled and disintegrated into fragments. Then O'Neills men fled for their lives. However the sandy tidal ford they had crossed that morning in the expectation of Victory was now filled with the waters of the swiftly advancing tide. There was no way out but to try their luck in the treacherous waters, encumbered as they were by their weaponry and armour. Hundreds were cut down or drowned as they sought the safety of the other bank.

As light faded Aodh O'Donnell had won a great victory over the men of Tir Eoghan with perhaps as many as 1300 of his enemies either drowned or dead on the field of battle.*

Shane O'Neill was turned within the course of a single day from being the most powerful Chieftain in the North into a desperate fugitive fleeing for his life. He had lost some of those dearest to him in this catastrophe: two of his grandsons, plus MacDonald, the leader of his Gallowglasses, and Dubhaltach, his foster brother and 'the person most faithful and dear to him in existence'

As fortune would have it Shane had recruited some of the O'Gallagers of Tir Connell onto his side and with their local knowledge he was able to evade his pursuers by turning upstream to Scarrifhollis and then ride for home.When he got back he found his support base collapsing around him and turned in desperation to the Mac Donald's of Cantire in Scotland under Alexander to support him. The Mac Donald's were old enemies so it was a strange place to seek Allies but they came anyway to see if they could cut a deal. They met up at Cushendun in Antrim. Whatever happened when they initially met things soon turned sour and a fight broke out. Shane was cut down and put to the sword. His body was flung in a pit and his head dispatched to Dublin for display on the Castle Walls. So ended the colourful and dramatic career of Shane O'Neill, a man who was a thorn in the side of the English for many years and was both respected and feared by all, Irish or Foreign, whom he clashed with.

Queen Elizabeth I of England stated:

'that we give thanks to Almighty God by whom we hold and rule all that we enjoy, for his goodness and favour shown in the punishment and extinguishing of such a rebellion so long continued'

Sidney State Papers 1565-70

T.OLaidhin

* A report to the English Lord Deputy Sidney in Dublin stated that 613 men were counted dead on the battlefield. Many others must have drowned in the waters and been swept away
 
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Myles O'Reilly

Myles O'Reilly

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On 5th July 1644 the Battle of Finea bridge was fought.

Confederate General Lord Castlehaven received word that a 17,000 strong British (English & Scotch) army under General Monroe was approaching from Cavan intent on marching into Leinster via the bridge over the Inny River at Finea. A force of 600 infantry and 100 horse under Colonel John Butler and Brian Roe O’Neill was sent to arrest their advance at the bridge.

A day after the Irish reached the bridge, Monroe arrived and immediately launched an attack. A ferocious fight ensued with wave after wave of British soldiers attacking the defensive line. The fighting continued right throughout the day until nearly all the defenders were wounded or dead. Its at this point a figure of some legend called Myles "The Slasher" O'Reilly emerges. Its said that he repeatedly rallied the troops when it looked like all was lost and his name has gone down in local folklore. As the evening approached Monroe, having suffered horrendous casualties himself, called off the attack and retreated back into Ulster just as Irish reinforcements began to arrive from Granard.

As for O'Reilly, some accounts say he was slain near the close of battle as he grappled with a huge Scotsman who had jammed his Claymore into O'Reilly's cheek. With his last ounce of strength the "Slasher" drew down on his assailant and split his head from tip to chin with both men falling dead. Others say that he survived the day and went on to have a family. In 1864 a lady called Anna Maria O’Reilly installed a large plaque in the tower hall of Ross Castle to commemorate her ancestor who was said to have spent the night there before the battle and possibly the night after as well. What is certain is that O'Reilly's renown lived long in local memory so much so that 269 years later a memorial was erected to him in the village of Finea in 1913.


Finea bridge




Myles O'Reilly





Inscription on memorial

In memory of Myles O'Reilly
(The Slasher)

Who fell on the 5th August 1646*
While defending the bridge of Finea
Against the English-Scottish forces under
General Monroe

"He fought till the red lines before him
heaped high as the battlement lay
He fell but the foot of a foeman
pressed not on the bridge of Finea"



* date on inscription is incorrect
 
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Hitsticle

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In July 1644 the Battle of Finea bridge was fought.

Confederate General Lord Castlehaven received word that a 17,000 strong British (English & Scotch) army under General Monroe was approaching from Cavan intent on marching into Leinster via the bridge over the Inny River at Finea. A force of 600 infantry and 100 horse under Colonel John Butler and Brian Roe O’Neill was sent to arrest their advance at the bridge.

A day after the Irish reached the bridge, Monroe arrived and immediately launched an attack. A ferocious fight ensued with wave after wave of British soldiers attacking the defensive line. The fighting continued right throughout the day until nearly all the defenders were wounded or dead. Its at this point a figure of some legend called Myles "The Slasher" O'Reilly emerges. Its said that he repeatedly rallied the troops when it looked like all was lost and his name has gone down in local folklore. As the evening approached Monroe, having suffered horrendous casualties himself, called off the attack and retreated back into Ulster just as Irish reinforcements began to arrive from Granard.

As for O'Reilly, some accounts say he was slain near the close of battle as he grappled with a huge Scotsman who had jammed his Claymore into O'Reilly's cheek. With his last ounce of strength the "Slasher" drew down on his assailant and split his head from tip to chin with both men falling dead. Others say that he survived the day and went on to have a family. In 1864 a lady called Anna Maria O’Reilly installed a large plaque in the tower hall of Ross Castle to commemorate her ancestor who was said to have spent the night there before the battle and possibly the night after as well. What is certain is that O'Reilly's renown lived long in local memory so much so that 269 years later a memorial was erected to him in the village of Finea in 1913.


Finea bridge




Myles O'Reilly





Inscription on memorial

In memory of Myles O'Reilly
(The Slasher)

Who fell on the 5th August 1646*
While defending the bridge of Finea
Against the English-Scottish forces under
General Monroe

"He fought till the red lines before him
heaped high as the battlement lay
He fell but the foot of a foeman
pressed not on the bridge of Finea"



* date on inscription is incorrect
Sir, I always find your historical posts very engaging. I don't know what your profession is but it is a shame it is not teaching. Your students would have a very high pass rate.