Museum Article Week Twelve
Welcome again all friends of Mountmellick Embroidery Museum to week twelve in our series of articles relating to our Museum and or local History. We hope that you and yours are keeping well and are now planning your post Covid exit movements in line with Official Guidelines.
For those of you who have followed our articles since week one, you will have seen a wide diversity in the subject matter spanning in some cases hundreds of years. We as always thank you for the positive comments and feedback received. Given that all of the articles published to date relate to aspects of our Embroidery Museum or local Mountmellick history they are invariable linked by events, personal involved and in most cases by the positive and negative consequences that emerged. Mountmellick over the last three hundred and fifty years has had many success stories due in no small measure to the Quaker involvement in the development of the Town, in parallel it has had its tragedies also, for instance the effect of the famine on the fortunes of the area, its involvement in key national events as illustrated in this week’s article.
This article written by one of our local historians Dick Fitzpatrick and his Granddaughter Dearbhla Dunne focuses on the tragic events surrounding the involvement of local volunteers from Mountmellick in the National 1798 rising which was unsuccessful, and resulted in retribution for the men involved.
This key historical event and its local involvement has been commemorated on the two subsequent hundred years/fifty-years anniversaries – some photographs of the most recent event in 1998 are attached.
Dearbhla has also translated this article into the Irish language and it is available to read below.
Tune in again next week.
Over to you Dick and Dearbhla and thank you for your contribution.
Chairperson Embroidery Museum
The 1798 Rebellion in Mountmellick, County Laois
By Dick Fitzpatrick and his granddaughter, Dearbhla Dunne
The 1798 Rebellion is famous for its non-sectarian aspect. Catholics, Protestants and Presbyterians came together to fight on behalf of the freedom of Ireland. The people of Ireland rose up all over the country, the people of Mountmellick included. The activities that occurred in County Laois and especially in Mountmellick still hold significance in the minds of the local people today. The majority of the information about the 1798 Rebellion in Mountmellick was collected from primary sources for the occasions that were organised in 1898 and 1998, for example letters and stories from people who had relations living in Mountmellick in the year 1798.
There was a rebellion in Ireland in the year 1798 due to many reasons. There was significant division between the Ascendency, and the native Irish and the Presbyterians as a result of the Penal Laws which were implemented from 1695 onwards. The rights of Catholics were taken from them and these sectarian laws also had a negative impact on the Protestant dissenters (the Presbyterians). Even though many of these laws had been repealed in the second half of the eighteenth century, a grudge was created amongst the people.
As well as that, the revolutionaries in Ireland drew inspiration from the French Revolution and from the American War of Independence. "Freedom, equality and fraternity" was the motto of the French and this motto, as well as the success of the Americans, inspired the young liberals in Ireland. The revolutions that occurred in other countries and their successes showed that authority of the English in Ireland was wrong and that if every class and denomination of the country fought together, the people of Ireland would have a chance at achieving independence.
In the year 1791, a small group of liberal Protestants founded a new society in Belfast. It was named the Society of United Irishmen and members of the organisation included Catholics, Protestants, Presbyterians and Methodists. This non-sectarian aspect was very innovative and the society became very popular amongst the people - there were at least 200,000 members by 1797. The leaders of the Society of United Irishmen are famous - Theobald Wolfe Tone, John Sheares and his brother Harry Sheares, Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Henry Joy McCrackan.
Revolution and Executions in Mountmellick
Mountmellick is a town in north County Laois. It is a fifteenth century settlement on the River Owenass. The Quakers came to the area in the year 1657 and they brought prosperity with them. The town was known as "The Manchester of Ireland" in the eighteenth century because there was a lot of industry in Mountmellick at the time, for example, the weaving industry and the tanning industry.
There was a mixture of religions in the town and a significant number of Mountmellick people and people from the surrounding area took part in the 1798 Rebellion. There is evidence from letters between Major James Leatham and Major General Sir Charles Asgill, that there was much activity in County Laois as part of the 1798 Rebellion, including parts of Mountmellick. According to one letter, written by Major James Leatham on 26 May 1798, "I have this instant heard Mountmellick is to be attacked this night. If so, I hope to give the rebels a dressing" (Dunne, 1998).
Between seventy and eighty United Irishmen from Mountmellick and the surrounding area were arrested after a terrible and disastrous battle and they were taken to the barracks. The loyalists of the town threw insults at them and they offered drinks to the cavalry, as well as rope with which to hang the prisoners. The prisoners were questioned and then, because the authorities got no information from them, they tortured the prisoners. The troops flogged them until they were unconscious.
Major Leatham decided that it would be appropriate to hang some of the prisoners to make an example of them. Six were chosen on 11 June. They were Patrick Dunne, Daniel Dunne, Francis Dunne, James Deegan, Thomas Dunne and Willie Brock. Two days later, five others were hanged and they were William Holohan, Patrick Murphy, John Guilfoyle, George Gilligan and Daniel Conroy. People of every religion all over the country condemned the executions. It is clear from letters that Major Leatham received angry backlash and that he was accused of wanton cruelty. It seems that he had no remorse, as he wrote to Major General Sir Charles Asgill on the 21 June 1798:
"I must observe that what may make the executions appear greater here than in other places, arises from the completeness of the information I have been able to obtain and they fall far short of the number that deserve it. I must assure you Sir I felt not the least remorse at the executions and I trust if you shall judge an investigation into my conduct necessary you will find I have not acted with inhumanity" (Dunne, 1998).
On 22 June 1798 Major General Sir Charles Asgill, wrote to Viscount Castlereagh, who was secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and he told him that Major Leatham was too merciful and that every man who received the death penalty had admitted his guilt (Dunne, 1998).
Huge importance is placed on the 1798 Rebellion and the activities in Laois by the people of Mountmellick. Commemorations were organised in the years 1898, 1938, 1948 and 1998. A monument was erected in 1898 and it is still there today on Wolfe Tone Street. Well known people, such as Arthur Griffith, gave donations to the Mountmellick memorial committee for the monument. Laurence McEvoy organised the commemoration in 1898. The commemoration of 1938 was attended by Count Joseph Plunkett. He was the father of Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation.
In the year 1998 the "1798 - 1998 Mountmellick Remembers Committee" published a book edited by Alan Dunne to commemorate the Rebellion. 1798 A Local Perspective was the name of this book. The local people did great work to organise activities all over the town. There was a Military Mass at 11am on 6 June and then a parade began at 1.30pm. The participants marched in costume from Acragar to the oldest graveyard in Mountmellick, known as the "Ivy Cemetery", and they unveiled a commemorative plaque. Then the parade went to Graigue Cemetery where they unveiled another commemorative plaque. The town was decorated with bunting and exhibitions made by the local schoolchildren. Members of Macra na Feirme and members of the Pioneers performed a re-enactment of the battle and the executions.
The 1998 commemoration was organised in the context of the Good Friday Agreement and as such, the non-sectarian aspect of the Rebellion was still very poignant and very relevant two hundred years after the event.
Francis McNamara, parish priest of Mountmellick, wrote the following words in the preface of 1798 A Local Perspective: "Remembering 1798 will always be important for us as we try, to understand and accept the resentments and aspirations which continue to divide sections of the people living in Ireland" (Dunne, 1998).
Mountmellick Remembers Committee. Dunne, A. ed., (1998). 1798 A Local Perspective. 1' edition. Laois. Imperial Print.
Éirí Amach 1798 i Móinteach Mílic, Contae Laoise
Dearbhla Ní Dhuinn a d’aistrigh go Gaeilge
Tá clú agus cáil ar Éirí Amach 1798 in Éirinn mar gheall ar an ngné neamhsheicteach. Tháinig Caitlicigh, Protastúnaigh agus Preispitéirigh le chéile chun troid ar son shaoirse na hÉireann. D’éirigh muintir na hÉireann amach ar fud na tíre, muintir Mhóinteach Mílic i gContae Laoise ina measc.
Tá na gníomhaíochtaí a tharla i gContae Laoise agus go háirithe i Móinteach Mílic fós suntasach i meabhair mhuintir na háite sa lá atá inniu ann. Bailíodh an chuid is mó den eolas faoi Éirí Amach 1798 i Móinteach Mílic le haghaidh na n-ócáidí a eagraíodh in 1898 agus 1998 ó bhunfhoinsí, mar shampla litreacha agus sceálta ó dhaoine a raibh gaolta acu a bhí ina gcónaí i Móinteach Mílic sa bhliain 1798.
Bhí éirí amach in Éirinn sa bhliain 1798 mar gheall ar go leor cúiseanna. Bhí deighilt shuntasach idir an Chinsealacht, agus na Gaeil agus na Preispitéirigh mar thoradh na bPéindlíthe a cuireadh i bhfeidhm ó 1695 i leith. Bhí cearta na gCaitliceach in Éirinn bainte díobh agus bhí drochthionchar ag na dlíthe seicteacha sin ar na heasaontóirí Protastúnacha (na Preispitéirigh) fosta. Cé gur aisghaireadh mórán de na dlíthe sin sa dara leath den ochtú haois déag, cruthaíodh olc i measc na ndaoine.
Anuas air sin, tharraing réabhlóidithe in Éirinn inspioráid ó Réabhlóid na Fraince agus ó Chogadh Saoirse Mheiriceá. Ba é “saoirse, comhionannas agus bráithreachas” mana na bhFrancach agus spreag an mana sin agus bua na Meiriceánach an t-aos óg liobrálach in Éirinn. Léirigh na réabhlóidí a tharla i dtíortha eile agus an bua a bhí acu go raibh údarás na Sasanach in Éirinn mícheart agus go mbeadh seans ag muintir na hÉireann neamhspleáchas a bhaint amach dá dtroidfeadh gach aicme den tír le chéile.
Bhunaigh dream beag de Phrotastúnaigh liobrálacha cumann nua i mBéal Feirste sa bhliain 1791. Cumann na nÉireannach Aontaithe an t-ainm a bhí air agus bhí Caitlicigh, Protastúnaigh, Preispitéirigh agus Meitidistigh ina mbaill den eagraíocht. Ba rud an-nuálach é an ghné neamhsheicteach sin agus d’éirigh sé an-choitianta i measc na ndaoine – bhí 200,000 ball ar a laghad ann faoi 1797. Tá clú agus cáil ar cheannairí Chumann na nÉireannach Aontaithe – Theobald Wolfe Tone, John Sheares agus a dheartháir Henry Sheares, an Tiarna Edward Fitzgerald agus Henry Joy McCrackan.
Éirí Amach agus Básuithe i Móinteach Mílic
Is baile é Móinteach Mílic i dTuaisceart Chontae Laoise. Is lonnaíocht ón gcúigiú haois déag é ar Abhainn Easa. Tháinig Cumann na gCarad go dtí an ceantar sa bhliain 1657 agus thug siad rath in éineacht leo. Tugadh “The Manchester of Ireland” ar an mbaile san ochtú haois déag toisc go raibh go leor tionscal i Móinteach Mílic ag an am, mar shampla, tionscal na fíodóireachta agus tionscal na súdaireachta.
Bhí meascán creideamh sa bhaile agus ghlac méid suntasach de mhuintir Mhóinteach Mílic agus daoine ón dúiche mórthimpeall páirt in Éirí Amach 1798. Tá fianaise ó litreacha idir an Maor James Leatham agus an Maorghinearál Sir Charles Asgill, go raibh go leor gníomhaíochtaí i gContae Laoise mar pháirt den Éirí Amach 1798, cuid Mhóinteach Mílic ina measc. De réir litir amháin, a scríobh Maor James Leatham ar 26 Bealtaine 1798, “I have this instant heard Mountmellick is to be attacked this night. If so I hope to give the rebels a dressing” (Dunne, 1998).
Gabhadh idir seachtó agus ochtó Éireannach Aontaithe ó Mhóinteach Mílic agus ón gceantar mórthimpeall i ndiaidh cath uafásach agus tubaisteach agus tugadh go dtí an bheairic iad. Chaith dílseoirí an bhaile maslaí leo agus d'ofráil siad deochanna don marcshlua, chomh maith le rópa chun na príosúnaigh a chrochadh. Ceistíodh na príosúnaigh agus ansin, toisc nach bhfuair na húdaráis aon eolas uathu, rinne siad céasadh orthu. Lasc na trúipéirí iad go dtí go raibh siad neamhaireachtálach.
Shocraigh Maor Leatham go mbeadh sé oiriúnach roinnt príosúnach a chrochadh chun sampla a dhéanamh díobh. Roghnaíodh seisear ar an 11 Meitheamh. Ba iad sin Patrick Dunne, Daniel Dunne, Francis Dunne, James Deegan, Thomas Dunne agus Willie Brock. Dhá lá ina dhiaidh sin, crochadh cúigear eile agus ba iad sin William Holohan, Patrick Murphy, John Guilfoyle, George Gilligan agus Daniel Conroy. Cháin daoine de gach creideamh ar fud na tíre na básuithe. Tá sé le feiceáil ó litreacha go bhfuair an Maor Leatham frithradadh feargach agus gur cuireadh cruáil bhaoth ina leith.
Tá an chuma ar an scéal nach raibh aon aithreachas air, mar scríobh sé chuig an Maorghinearál Sir Charles Asgill ar an 21 Meitheamh 1798:
“I must observe that what may make the executions appear greater here than in other places, arises from the completeness of the information I have been able to obtain and they fall far short of the number that deserve it. I must assure you Sir I felt not the least remorse at the executions and I trust if you shall judge an investigation into my conduct necessary you will find I have not acted with inhumanity” (Dunne, 1998).
Scríobh an Maorghinearál Sir Charles Asgill ar an 22 Meitheamh 1798 chuig an Tiarna Castlereagh a bhí ina a rúnaí ag Fear Ionaid an Rí, agus dúirt sé leis go raibh an Maor Leatham róthrócaireach agus d’admhaigh gach fear ar thug sé breith bháis air go raibh sé ciontach (Dunne, 1998).
Is mór an tábhacht a bhaineann le hÉirí Amach 1798 agus leis na gníomhaíochtaí i gContae Laoise do mhuintir Mhóinteach Mílic. Eagraíodh cuimhneacháin sna blianta 1898, 1938, 1948 agus 1998. Cuireadh leacht suas in 1898 agus tá sé fós ann sa lá atá inniu ann ar Shráid Wolfe Tone. Thug daoine mór le rá, mar shampla Arthur Griffith, síntiús do choiste cuimhneacháin Mhóinteach Mílic le haghaidh an leachta. D’eagraigh Laurence McEvoy an comóradh in 1898. D’fhreastail an Cunta Joseph Plunkett ar an gcomóradh i 1938. Ba athair Joseph Mary Plunkett é, duine de shínitheoirí Fhorógra 1916.
Sa bhliain 1998 d’fhoilsigh an coiste “1798 – 1998 Mountmellick Remembers Committee” leabhar a bhí curtha in eagar ag Alan Dunne chun an tÉirí Amach a chomóradh. 1798 A Local Perspective an t-ainm a bhí ar an leabhar sin. Rinne muintir na háite an-obair chun imeachtaí a eagrú ar fud an bhaile. Bhí Aifreann Míleata ar siúl ag 11am ar an 6 Meitheamh agus ansin thosaigh paráid mhór ar 1:30pm. Shiúil na rannpháirtithe a bhí faoi fheisteas ón Acra Gearr go dtí an reilig is sine i Móinteach Mílic ar a dtugtar “Ivy Cemetery” agus nochtadh plaic chuimhneacháin. Ansin chuaigh an pharáid go dtí Reilig na Gráige, áit ar nochtadh plaic chuimhneacháin eile. Maisíodh an baile le stiallbhratacha agus taispeántais a rinne na daltaí scoile áitiúla. Rinne baill Mhacra na Feirme agus baill na Réadóirí athléiriú ar an gcath agus ar na básuithe.
Eagraíodh comóradh 1998 i gcomhthéacs Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta agus mar gheall air sin, bhí an ghné neamhsheicteach den Éirí Amach fós an-tochtmhar agus an-ábhartha dhá chéad bliain ina dhiaidh. Scríobh sagart paróiste Mhóinteach Mílic, Francis McNamara i réamhrá 1798 A Local Perspective na focail seo a leanas: “Remembering 1798 will always be important for us as we try to understand and accept the resentments and aspirations which continue to divide sections of the people living in Ireland” (Dunne, 1998).
Mountmellick Remembers Committee. Dunne, A. ed., (1998). 1798 A Local Perspective. 1ú eagrán. Laois. Imperial Print.
Monument to Commemorate those Eleven men executed on the 11 -13 June 1798
Artist Impression of Pound St (Now O Moore St.) as of the 11th of June 1798
1798 Anniversary Parade firing party in Graigue Cemetery Sunday 14th November 1948
Parade 1948 Wolftone Street
1948 Parade at Sarsfield St.
1998 - Macra Drama Group - The Condemned
1998 - Pineer Drama Group re-enactment of the events of 1798.
Blog Tags: -