#OnThisDay 1798 The United Irishmen were defeated at the Battle of Kilcumney Hill, Carlow. Fr. John Murphy barely managed to escape with his life. Fr Murphy and his bodyguard, James Gallagher, became separated from the main surviving group (fragments of which fought for six more years from the Killoughrim woods near Enniscorthy and from Wicklow mountains. Fr Murphy decided to head for the safety of a friend’s house in Tullow, County Carlow, when the path cleared. They were sheltered by friends and strangers – one Protestant woman, asked by searching yeomen if any strangers had passed, answered
“No strangers passed here today”;
When she was later questioned about why she had not said Murphy and Gallagher had not passed, she explained that they had not – because they were still in her house when she was questioned. Murphy was captured days later.
Crown forces under Sir Charles Asgill killed many local men, women, children & burned houses after the battle. Accounts range from rom terrible to horrific.
‘They murdered Andrew MacKesy and his son, burned their house and left two children both deaf and dumb without a protector.
At Ballinasillogue they murdered eighteen of the inhabitants and of these were five brothers named Neill all living in the same house with a widow, their mother and two female children.
They murdered also in this townland Peter Kinchela, who at the time, was surrounded by seven small children crying in vain for mercy.
In Coshill Patrick Fitzpatrick and his wife Margaret fell dead in each others’ arms: the same bullet ended their lives. The house of this ill-fate couple was set fire to over the heads of their five children and one of the innocent creatures ran into a neighbour’s house who had escaped by hiding himself, crying “My Daddy is killed; my Mammy is killed, and the pigs are drinking their blood.”
About one hundred and forty persons were slaughtered, leaving perhaps four or five hundred unprotected orphans.”