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Local Studies Department

The 1798 Rebellion in County Kildare

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.

Morning of 24th

Nine loyalists under John Jefferies, a yeoman sergeant, repulsed an attack by rebels under James Murphy on Narraghmore Courthouse. They then proceeded to Jefferies home but were driven out when the rebels set it on fire. Jefferies escaped but three others were killed and six taken prisoner by the rebels who had rallied under Daniel Walsh.

Colonel Campbell of Athy ordered Major Montresor with a detachment of Suffolk Fencibles to Narraghmore (through Glassealy) but they arrived too late. Campbell marched to Mullaghmast.

The Suffolk Fencibles marched out of Ballitore. Nine men were left to secure the baggage. Lieutenant Eadie and 23 privates of the Tyrone Militia marched out of Ballitore to join their company at Calverstown. An attempted ambush was thwarted and a party of rebels routed. Rebels begin to occupy the town.

Kildare Town 2.00 p.m.
General Wilford ordered his troops out of the town of Kildare, to go first to Kilcullen and then to Naas. Their baggage and rebel arms that had been recovered were lodged in the guard-house. He ordered Captain Winter and his troops (small parties of the Suffolk Fencibles and the 9th Dragoons) out of Monasterevin. Orders were left to burn the baggage etc but they ended up in rebel hands.

c. 3.00 p..
The bell was sounded in Kildare Town to rouse the United Irishmen. By nightfall there would be 2,000 rebels under Roger McGarry in the town.

Ballitore c. 3.00 p.m.
Rebels appeared on the bridge at Ballitore but were turned back by Dr. Johnson. A little later around 300 rebels under Malachi Delaney (on a white horse) possess the town. Some of the Suffolk Fencibles left to protect the baggage were killed. Richard Yeates a young yeomanry lieutenant was killed. Ballitore was fortified by the rebels.

Glassealy, Narraghmore and Red Gap Hill
Major Montrose had reached Glassealy but the rebels under Captain Paddy Dowling and Terry Toole fled. Montresor made it to Narraghmore but was too late and pushed on to Red Gap Hill. He was joined by Captain Rudd (30 men) and Lieutenant Eadie. They were attacked by around 3,000 rebels. Seven of the Suffolk Fencibles were killed and about 200 rebels. Eighteen of the Narraghmore yeomanry who fought with the rebels were shot.

Eagle Hill (Rathangan) and Monasterevin
At Eagle Hill the house of Mr. Johnson Darragh was attacked by a party of rebels but they were beaten off. Skirmishes near Monasterevin.

Throughout the day and into the evening rebels gathered near Rathangan and some houses were attacked and burned. Captain Langton and the South Cork Militia were ordered to Sallins but persuaded by Mr. Spenser to stay.

Castledermot - Late Evening
A large party of rebels left Ballitore and by the time they reached Castledermot were approximately 1,200 strong. They were beaten by a small party of the 6th Regiment of Foot under Captain Mince, assisted by Sir Richard Butler's troop of yeomen cavalry. Many rebels were killed and two taken prisoner were hanged.

Kildare Town - Late Evening/Night
George Crawford (sergeant in Taylor's yeomanry) and his 14 year old granddaughter were murdered by rebels. Mrs. Crawford barely escaped with her life

Kildare Town 11.00 p.m.
Limerick mail coach plundered in Kildare. A passenger, 17 year old Lieutenant William Giffard of the 82nd Regiment was shot and piked

Published by Kildare County Council

Written by Mario Corrigan .