Hot Irish Battles

Catalpa

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21 September 1795: The Battle of the Diamond on this day. This deadly encounter took place at a little crossroads in north County Armagh between the Protestant ‘Peep O Day Boys’ and the Catholic ‘Defenders’, both of which were semi paramilitary groups fighting for power in the County at that time. While there was always tension between the adherents of both religions this was exacerbated by the situation in Armagh where the Linen industry was the economic powerhouse of the County and indeed one of the major industries in Ireland at that time. Both sides wanted a cut of the economic benefits that ensued from this lucrative industry but the Protestants viewed the steady encroachment of the Catholics into an Industry they saw as ‘theirs’ as something to be stamped out.

Tension had been building in the area for days and attempts at mediation had met with a certain level of success. The Protestants though were clearly being reinforced with weaponry as numbers of ‘off duty’ members of the Crown Forces arrived on the scene, which gave them a considerable advantage over their opponents in anything other than a melee. By the morning of Monday 21 September it looked like the situation had calmed down enough that hundreds of men from both sides gathered on the hills around the area would depart and bloodshed would be avoided.

But as dawn broke the Defenders, egged on by men who had marched for miles to help them, descended onto the crossroads itself and seized the homestead of Dan Winter, a local Protestant. Daniel Winter and his sons defended their property as long as possible, having to retreat to the Diamond Hill when the thatch was fired. This was the trigger for the engagement to begin in earnest. The Protestants lined up their musket men along the brow of the hill and proceeded to open fire on the Catholics gathered around the Diamond.

From this position, they gained three crucial advantages: the ability to comfortably rest their muskets, allowing for more accurate shooting; and a steep up-hill location which made it hard for attackers to scale; and a direct line-of-sight to Winter's cottage which the Defenders made their rallying point. It was all over very fast with the Defenders been cut down in droves in what in effect was a Massacre. Perhaps as many as 30 Catholics lay dead and many scores more were wounded. The Defenders then fled taking as many of their injured men with them as they could carry.
In the aftermath of the ‘battle’, the Peep o' Day Boys retired to James Sloans inn in Loughgall, and it was here that James Wilson, Dan Winter, and James Sloan would found the Orange Order with the stated aim of ‘defending the King and his heirs so long as he supported the Protestant Ascendancy’.

In the months that followed and through the winter of 1795-1796 hundreds of Catholic houses were attacked, people killed and injured and their linen looms destroyed in what became known as the 'Armagh Outrages’. It is estimated that over 7,000 Catholic men, women and children were driven from their homes in an orgy of violence - never to return. The effects of that fateful encounter at the Diamond in County Armagh are still with us to this day.
 

Myles O'Reilly

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A massacre indeed. Never bring knives to a gunfight.
 
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21 September 1795: The Battle of the Diamond on this day. This deadly encounter took place at a little crossroads in north County Armagh between the Protestant ‘Peep O Day Boys’ and the Catholic ‘Defenders’, both of which were semi paramilitary groups fighting for power in the County at that time. While there was always tension between the adherents of both religions this was exacerbated by the situation in Armagh where the Linen industry was the economic powerhouse of the County and indeed one of the major industries in Ireland at that time. Both sides wanted a cut of the economic benefits that ensued from this lucrative industry but the Protestants viewed the steady encroachment of the Catholics into an Industry they saw as ‘theirs’ as something to be stamped out.

Tension had been building in the area for days and attempts at mediation had met with a certain level of success. The Protestants though were clearly being reinforced with weaponry as numbers of ‘off duty’ members of the Crown Forces arrived on the scene, which gave them a considerable advantage over their opponents in anything other than a melee. By the morning of Monday 21 September it looked like the situation had calmed down enough that hundreds of men from both sides gathered on the hills around the area would depart and bloodshed would be avoided.

But as dawn broke the Defenders, egged on by men who had marched for miles to help them, descended onto the crossroads itself and seized the homestead of Dan Winter, a local Protestant. Daniel Winter and his sons defended their property as long as possible, having to retreat to the Diamond Hill when the thatch was fired. This was the trigger for the engagement to begin in earnest. The Protestants lined up their musket men along the brow of the hill and proceeded to open fire on the Catholics gathered around the Diamond.

From this position, they gained three crucial advantages: the ability to comfortably rest their muskets, allowing for more accurate shooting; and a steep up-hill location which made it hard for attackers to scale; and a direct line-of-sight to Winter's cottage which the Defenders made their rallying point. It was all over very fast with the Defenders been cut down in droves in what in effect was a Massacre. Perhaps as many as 30 Catholics lay dead and many scores more were wounded. The Defenders then fled taking as many of their injured men with them as they could carry.
In the aftermath of the ‘battle’, the Peep o' Day Boys retired to James Sloans inn in Loughgall, and it was here that James Wilson, Dan Winter, and James Sloan would found the Orange Order with the stated aim of ‘defending the King and his heirs so long as he supported the Protestant Ascendancy’.

In the months that followed and through the winter of 1795-1796 hundreds of Catholic houses were attacked, people killed and injured and their linen looms destroyed in what became known as the 'Armagh Outrages’. It is estimated that over 7,000 Catholic men, women and children were driven from their homes in an orgy of violence - never to return. The effects of that fateful encounter at the Diamond in County Armagh are still with us to this day.
the orange order blamed the peep o day boys for the Armagh outrages, even though most of their members were involved. the orange order would publicly condemn violence yet privately condone or turn a blind eye to it. it kept the protestant classes together and in this situation like many others, the sectarian meatheads were used to destroy the Catholic linen industry in Armagh for the betterment of the upper class members of the orange.
 

Rasherhash

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A massacre indeed. Never bring knives to a gunfight.
When the state is supporting one side and has a monopoly on arms, that's easier said than done.
 

Myles O'Reilly

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When the state is supporting one side and has a monopoly on arms, that's easier said than done.
Those sectarian clashes at the time generally tended to be one-sided affairs. It wasn't until the mid to late 19th Century when the Catholics got their hands on a decent amount of arms themselves that they seemed to even out. Even then the law was heavily weighted on one side. I recall
one particular encounter near Enniskillen where the Catholics came out on top only to be subsequently tried by magistrates who were all in the Orange Order!
 

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Myles O'Reilly

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FFS John, go easy on the Bon Jovi sh1t would ye?
 

Catalpa

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22 September 1920: The Rineen Ambush on this day. The 4th Battalion of the Clare IRA under Commandant O’Neill ambushed a party of Black and Tans and killed six of them without loss to themselves. They then had a lucky escape as quite unexpectedly a large party of British Military arrived on the scene by chance but in the confusion all the men of the ambush party successfully got away.

On September 22, 1920, one of the most remarkable encounters of the War of Independence took place at Dromin Hill, Rineen. The purpose of the act was to get revenge for the murder of Martin Devitt, an Irish soldier who was shot dead in an ambush in February of that year in the locality. A secondary function was to get arms for the poorly equipped volunteers in the area.
Men from several battalions took part in the ambush. The companies in question were Ennistymon, Lahinch, Inagh, Moy, Glendline, Miltown Malbay and Letterkelly. Most of these, however, were unarmed because of the lack of ammunition. The entire lot of arms consisted of 60 rounds of ammunition, eight rifles, two bombs, two revolvers and 16 shotguns.
All the RIC men in the tender were killed. The RIC men killed were an RIC Sergeant (Michael Hynes), along with five other constables (Reginald Hardman, Michael Harte, John Hodnett, Michael Kelly and John Maguire).
The ambush was carried out by men from the 4th Battalion, Mid-Clare brigade led by Ignatius O’Neill, Battalion O/C and ex-soldier with the Irish Guards, British Army.
There were about 60 in the ambushing party but only nine had rifles. Among the men who took part were Seamus Hennessy, Peter Vaughan, Dan (Dave?) Kennelly, Steve Gallagher, Michael O’Dwyer, Michael Curtin, Pat Lehane, Sean Burke, Pake Lehane, Dan Lehane, Patso Kerin, Anthony Malone, John Joe Neylon, Owen Nestor, Tom Burke, Alphonsus O’Neill and Ned Hynes.
Thomas Moroney was in charge of the scouts, one of whom was John Clune, who cycled into Miltown Malbay to check when the tender would return. After the attack on the tender, the IRA had not fully withdrawn when the British military, consisting of about 150 soldiers, arrived on the scene. They were on their way to the site of the capture of RM Lendrum. A running pursuit followed with no deaths on either side but O’Neill and Curtin were wounded.
The Clare Champion
 

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25 September 1983: 38 IRA prisoners escaped from Long Kesh aka H.M. Prison the Maze on this day. In a meticulously planned operation a selected number of men seized their wing from the Prison Officers [‘screws’] set to watch over them and made a dash for Freedom.

For months before the prisoners had done everything to put the screws at ease - they even volunteered for prison work and engaged their captors in social conversation. Small arms were smuggled into the wing and hidden away. Only a certain number of men were in on the act and were sworn to secrecy. That bond held and nothing leaked - the prison officers were caught completely off guard.

At 2:15pm that day, three prisoners, carrying concealed pistols fitted with silencers and which had been smuggled into the prison, moved into the central administration area of H-Block 7 on the pretext of cleaning out a store. They were joined by others and secured the area. The prison officers were made to strip and their captors donned their uniforms.

The escapees had studied the routine of the prison for months and knew the timetable for the delivery of food to their Block. A food lorry did a daily run to Long Kesh every day at roughly the same time. When it arrived it was hijacked. At this point a prison officer was stabbed to death.

‘The food lorry was then driven through a series of security gates in full view of prison guards and British Army watchtowers...The lorry arrived at a first ‘tally hut’, where the plan was to take control, arrest all the Screws, leave prisoners in charge and drive the lorry on to the front gate ‘tally hut’ and then out of the prison to freedom. However, there was a larger number of Screws than anticipated at the first hut, where others were coming on and off duty; the escapers could not control them all and the alarm was raised.’
Mícheál Mac Donncha An Phoblacht 25 September 2017

At this stage the prisoners decided to just run for it out through the front gate and across the fields...Amazingly despite the uproar within the prison as the Alarm was raised 19 of them got clean away.

The prison break was a huge propaganda victory for the IRA as the place was supposed to be the most heavily guarded prison in western Europe. A number of the 19 escapers later died on active service with the IRA while others were extradited back to prison in the Six Counties.

In an interview in An Phoblacht/Republican News at the time, the IRA described the escape:

“We perceived the escape as a military operation from beginning to end. It could not have been achieved in any other way, and the Active Service Unit – as Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army – were under strict orders throughout from an operations officer whose judgement was crucial and whose every order had to be obeyed.”
 

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14 October 1318 : The Battle of Faughart, also known as the Battle of Dundalk, was fought on this day. It was between an Anglo-Irish force led by John of Birmingham and Edmund Butler, and a Scots-Irish army commanded by Edward Bruce, claimant to the Crown of Ireland and brother of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland. Edward was killed in the battle. The defeat and death of Edward de Bruce at the battle ended the attempt to revive an independent Kingdom of Ireland. It also ended the attempt of King Robert of Scotland to open up a second front against the English in the Anglo-Scottish Wars.

Edward had invaded Ireland with an Army of 6,000 men in May 1315 and initially swept all before him. But his arrival here coincided with the start of a Great Famine that swept Europe that was caused by devastating climatic change. That and the cruelties his followers inflicted upon the guilty and innocent alike won him few converts outside of Ulster. Like Hannibal of old he could win battles and sweep the land, but he could not take the city of Dublin – the Capital of Ireland.

By 1318 his position was desperate as he saw his ambition to be King of Ireland in his own right slip away. He decided on a desperate gamble - to give battle before reinforcements could arrive from Scotland and thus lessen his own glory. Thus the two armies met at Faughart, on rising ground just north of Dundalk. Bruce had placed the few Gaelic forces that stayed with him at the rear. He divided his army into three divisions. This disposition proved disastrous, as the divisions proved to be easy targets for deBirmingham’s forces who simply destroyed them as they met and engaged with them. They were too far away from each other to provide any support to each other.

The English 'Chronicle of Lanercost' recorded:

The Scots were in three columns at such a distance from each other that the first was done with before the second came up, and then the second before the third, with which Edward was marching could render any aid. Thus the third column was routed just as the two preceding ones had been. Edward fell at the same time and was beheaded after death; his body being divided into four quarters, which were sent to the four chief quarters of Ireland.

At the beginning of the battle, Edward Bruce refused to wear the sur-coat bearing his coat of arms. This was worn by his man-servant Gib Harper, who fought beside his master. Both master and servant were killed by an English soldier called John Maupas, but not before Maupas himself had sustained a fatal sword thrust. All three were found together after the battle in which many Scottish nobles who had followed Bruce since the beginning of the campaign, were also killed.

After Edward's death his body was quartered and his limbs sent to various places in Ireland, with his head being delivered to Edward II, the King of England. Tradition holds that his torso was then buried in nearby graveyard.
His defeat and destruction at Faughart was as unexpected as it was sudden but the termination of this terrible war was greeted with relief as it brought to an end a bleak and dark chapter in Ireland’s History.

Edward Bruce, the destroyer of all Erinn in general,
both Foreigners and Gaeidhel, was slain by the Foreigners of Erinn, and …
no better deed for the men of all Erinn was performed
since the beginning of the world, since the Fomorian race was expelled from Erinn, than this deed
for theft and famine, and destruction of men occurred throughout Erinn during his time
For the space of three years and a half
and people used to eat one another, without doubt throughout Erinn.

Annals of Loch Cé 1318 AD
 

Myles O'Reilly

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Originally posted by Catalpa.

10‭ May 1318: The Battle of Dysert O'Dea was fought on this day. It took place near near Corofin, Co Clare. The battle occurred during the Bruce Invasion of Ireland.

The Anglo Norman Lord Richard De Clare‭ ( ‬a descendant of Strongbow‭) ‬attacked the Irish chieftain Conor O’Dea, chief of the Cineal Fearmaic people and the ally of King Muircheartach O’Brien of Thomond.

De Clare made the mistake of dividing his army in three in the face of the enemy and he led the van towards Castle Dysert O’Dea‭ – the home of the Irish Chieftain. ‬O’Dea held them at the ford of Fergus and sent messengers out to bring up reinforcements as De Clare charged at his opponents only to be surrounded and cut down by the axe of Conor O’Dea himself.‭

As the rest of the Anglo Norman force came up they waded into the Irish and were on the point of extracting a bloody revenge when‭ ‬Felim O'Connor's troops charged down the hill of Scamhall (Scool) and cut a path through the English to join the battle. De Clare's son then arrived on the scene and was cut down and killed by Felim O'Connor.

As the two forces were locked in this deadly struggle both expected reinforcements to arrive and as King Muircheartach O'Brien’s men galloped onto the scene Conor O’Dea almost lost heart not knowing who they were until he heard the Irish war cries and knew the victory was won.‭ Soon Lochlann O'Hehir and the MacNamaras joined the fight and it was all over for the Anglo Normans who sold their lives dearly and went down fighting.

The power of one of the great Anglo Norman families - the De Clares - was shattered forever.‭ In the wake of this victory King Muircheartach O'Brien advanced upon the environs of Bunratty Castle, home of the De Clare Family to find much of the surrounding dwellings burnt by De Clare’s widow who promptly fled to England. The Castle though held out for a couple of weeks and the Irish completely destroyed it in 1322. The De Clare’s never returned and Thomond west of the Shannon remained under Irish rule until the early 17th Century. It was the greatest Gaelic victory of the Bruce War.
 

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Originally posted by Catalpa.

11 May 1745: The battle of Fontenoy was fought on this day. It occurred in what was then part of the Austrian Netherlands but is now in present day Belgium. The French under Marshal De Saxe defeated the British - Dutch Army under the Duke of Cumberland.

The Allied Army was on the advance to relieve the siege of Tournai when they encountered the French under Marshal De Saxe drawn up in prepared positions. In all the French army numbered 93 battalions, 146 squadrons and 80 cannon, some 70,000 troops, of which 27 battalions and 17 squadrons were left to cover Tournai. In support of this position was a reserve of picked infantry and cavalry regiments, including the Irish Brigade, the “Wild Geese’’.

Cumberland reconnoitred the French position on 10th May and decided to pin down the French right wing by attacking with the Austrian and Dutch contingents between Antoing and Fontenoy. While these attacks were being made the British and Hanoverians would advance between Fontenoy and the Bois de Bary across what appeared to be open ground. His so called ‘Pragmatic Army’ comprised 56 battalions of infantry and 87 squadrons of cavalry supported by 80 cannon, in all around 53,000 men.

The French Army however put up a formidable defence and the Allies found the advance heavy going, taking many casualties as they attempted to break their opponents line. But Cumberland pressed on and eventually forced his way into the centre of the French position. The troops opposing him began to buckle. It was the critical moment of the battle.

It was at this point that Marshal De Saxe unleashed his reserve who enveloped the flanks of the British Column. The Irish Brigade (approx. 4,000 men) and dressed in Redcoats was in the thick of it, the men fired up by thought of revenge against their Country’s Oppressor. The Irish Regiments advanced upon the British lines to the cry: 'Cuimhnigidh ar Liumneac, agus ar fheile na Sacsanach’ – ‘Remember Limerick and British faith!’

It consisted that day of the regiments of Clare, Lally, Dillon, Berwick, Roth, and Buckley, with Fitzjames' horse. O'Brien, Lord Clare, was in command. Aided by the French regiments of Normandy and Vaisseany, they were ordered to charge upon the flank of the English with fixed bayonets without firing…

The fortune of the field was no longer doubtful. The English were weary with a long day's fighting, cut up by cannon, charge, and musketry, and dispirited by the appearance of the Brigade. Still they gave their fire well and fatally; but they were literally stunned by the shout, and shattered by the Irish charge. They broke before the Irish bayonets, and tumbled down the far side of the hill disorganized, hopeless, and falling by hundreds. The victory was bloody and complete. Louis is said to have ridden down to the Irish bivouac, and personally thanked them…

George the Second, on hearing it, uttered that memorable imprecation on the penal code, 'Cursed be the laws which deprive me of such subjects.' The one English volley and the short struggle on the crest of the hill cost the Irish dear. One-fourth of the officers, including Colonel Dillon, were killed, and one-third of the men. The capture of Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, and Oudenard, followed the victory of Fontenoy."

STORY OF IRELAND
By A. M. Sullivan

It was the Irish Brigade’s most famous Victory - though it came at a high cost, with hundreds of men dead and wounded. The Pragmatic Army lost almost 10,000 men, while the French suffered between 6,000-7,000 casualties.
 
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