County Kildare
1798 History Trail

A Chronology of the Rebellion in County Kildare
(The principal engagements in the Rebellion in Ireland in 1798 are included in brackets)

Saturday May 19th

Lord Edward Fitzgerald was arrested and wounded in the house of Murphy the feather merchant in the Liberties.

Sunday May 20th

Captain Swayne and the City of Cork Militia, who continued actively at freequarters, arrived in Prosperous.

Wednesday May 23rd

Men began to gather at prearranged sites in support of the rising. The Mail Coach destined for Munster was attacked and destroyed near Naas. This was the planned signal for the rebellion.

Thursday May 24th

The 1798 Rebellion began in Kildare (United Irish Prisoners shot in Dunlavin in Wicklow). Rebels in Kildare simultaneously attack Naas, Prosperous, Clane and Ballymore-Eustace.

Ballymore-Eustace 1.00 - 2.00 a.m.

At Ballymore-Eustace Captain Beevor had sent around 120 of his men away so the garrison consisted of only 40 - 50 men of the 9th Dragoons and the Tyrone Militia who were quartered in eight different houses. Approximately 800 rebels attacked this force at Beevor's house for nearly two hours. Captain Beevor broke them with a charge losing about 13 men. The rebels lost two captains and 100 men.

Prosperous 2.00 a.m.

Prosperous was garrisoned by 35 of the City of Cork Militia under Captain Swayne (31 privates, 2 sergeants and 1 drummer) and 22 of the Ancient Britons (1 lieutenant, 1 quartermaster and 20 privates). Upwards of 500 rebels attacked the town at different points, concentrating on the Militia barrack in the centre of town and Brooke's cotton mill. The militia were burned out, Swayne was shot, piked and his body burned in a tar barrel by the rebels under Andrew Farrell and Dr. John Esmond. Later Downings House was burned and a landlord's agent, Stamers, was killed. A cotton manufacturer Mr. Brewer was also murdered. Nearly 40 troops were killed.

Naas 2.30 a.m.

Naas was attacked from three different directions by around 1,000 rebels under the command of Michael Reynolds of Johnstown in his scarlet regimentals. The town was protected by Lord Gosford and 150 Armagh Militia with two field pieces; 59 cavalry of the Fourth Horse Dragoons and Ancient Britons and 16 of the North Naas Cavalry under Captain Neville. The battle lasted about one hour and the rebels were repulsed with the loss of about 130 men, most of whom were killed while attempting to escape. The government lost around 22 men, Reynolds escaped to the Wicklow Mountains and more than 800 pikes and 20 firelocks were recovered.

Clane 2.00 - 3.00 a.m.

At Clane a large body of rebels (c. 300) attacked a company of Armagh Militia under Captain Jephson but were beaten off with the help of some of the local Clane yeoman cavalry.

3.00 - 3.15 a.m.

Their commander Richard Griffith received news of the attack at his home at Millicent and rushed to the town to find the rebels routed, many being killed and some houses burned. Six prisoners were taken and one was executed.

5.00 a.m.

A second rebel attack was effected with the help of some of the rebels from Prosperous. Griffith and his men made a stand on the commons. With well directed fire his men dispersed and routed the rebels. The fleeing attackers were charged down by the 16 yeomen cavalry. Griffith decided the position was untenable and retreated to Naas. Joined by Dr. Esmond (his lieutenant) he learned of his treachery and on entering Naas he had Esmond arrested. The five prisoners taken in the first attack were hanged in Naas.

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