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Tinryland in 1798

1798 Memorial The parish of Tinryland played an important role in the 1798 Rising. To mark the bicentenary of the rising in 1998, a special commemorative monument was erected on the main approach road to the village at Roche’s Cross. This honours the locals who fought and lost their lives at the Battle of Carlow in May 1798. The following is an account of the local involvement in the rebellion.

The government due to its spies was well informed about the plans of the United Irishmen for an insurrection. Most of the principal leaders were arrested at a meeting in Dublin in April 1798. One Carlow man was present at this meeting. He was Peter Ivers and his family seem to have come from Tinryland. Much of the information which the castle received was given by Thomas Reynolds who lived for a time in Kilkea Castle and was a good friend of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Peter Ivers, according to Farrell in “Carlow in ‘98” was prominent in the United Irishmen in Carlow. In fact the name Ivers was said to be the password used to gain entrance to the Dublin meeting. The meeting was held at Oliver Bond House on April 12 1798 and all fifteen members of the provincial committee were arrested. Two of them, Byrne and McCann were executed and the other thirteen including Ivers were sentenced to be transported. He sailed to Australia on the ship Minerva in 1798. MacSuibhne in his “ ’98 in Carlow” tells of the Ivers family being natives of Tinryland. They lived and owned land in Tinryland lower. With Ivers a member of the provincial committee of the United Irishmen, it is likely that many people in the parish were also United Irishmen.

The Rising began on May 23 1798 but the plan to capture Dublin was never put into effect. A group of United Irishmen from the Tinryland area prepared to march into Carlow to join up with other groups to attack the town. They were led by Mick Heydon and as Farrell tells us on their way “they had to pass the home of Rev. Fr. O’Neill PP, Tinryland”, who was a most exemplary man and famous even for his skill as a medical doctor and consequently a man of most extensive influence in the country. He came out of his house and stopped them on the road and begged them in the most moving terms to desist. He even went on his knees and used every entreaty he could think of to prevail them to go back, but all was useless. Those behind pushed on those in front and the doomed party led by Mick Heydon marched to their deaths.

This incident probably took place in Ballinacarrig on the evening of May 24 1798 as the present church in Tinryland was not built until 1832, though there was a mud walled chapel there before that. MacSuibhne tells us that before that time the parish priest lived in Ballinacarrig. This would indicate that the incident between the United Irishmen and Fr. O’Neill took place there. Fr. O’Neill seems to have been the first parish priest of Tinryland as a separate parish. He died on April 21 1799 aged 55 and is buried in Bennekerry.

When the authorities in Dublin discovered that a rising was to take place, they declared martial law. In the area around Athy, anyone suspected of being a United Irishman was taken out and flogged. Many confessed under torture and implicated many more. These other were then taken in and also flogged and some were pitchcapped. The terrible reports from around Athy frightened the Carlow men who felt that the same treatment would be given to them soon. When Peter Ivers was arrested, the leadership of the march on Carlow was taken over by Mick Heydon, a shoemaker from Carlow. Farrell in “Carlow in ‘98” seems to have advocated calling off the battle but Heydon and his friends continued to make plans for the attack. When the news came from Dublin that the planned attack was to go ahead, Heydon went around the town making final preparations and went out to the countryside to “rise the people”. It is likely that Tinryland had a large number of United Irishmen as with Peter Ivers so prominent in the organization it makes sense to speculate that he would have enrolled as many of his neighbours as possible. Mick heydon in trying to rouse the people told them that all they had to do was march in Carlow, give a shout and many of the yeomen and dragoons would flock to join them. The authorities in Carlow knew all the plans and made ready for the siege.

The attack was planned for early on the morning of May 25 1798 the plan was that the attack from the north would come down Dublin Street and would be led by Henry Rogers. The Laois men would come over from Graiguecullen Bridge from the west and another party composed of contingents from Mortarstown, Ballycarney, Cloughna and Clocristic would attack from the south by the Burrin Bridge. The Tinryland men, after rejecting the pleas of Fr. O’Neill, marched to Viewmount to join the other United Irishmen and waited for the signal to attack Carlow. They were under the command of Mick Heydon. They were to attack up Tullow Street and meet all the other groups in Potato Market where they would raise a shout and according to Farrell, men from the yeomen and militia would join them. But Colonel Mahon who was in charge of the defence of the town had all his plans in place. Graigue Bridge and Burrin Bridge were occupied and well defended. The houses in Tullow Street and Barrack Street were posted with militia. The men from Tinryland marched all the way up Tullow Street without opposition and could not believe how easily the town had fallen to them. When they arrived in Potato Market they gave a yell of delight and at that moment, windows opened in many of the houses and a volley of shots killed most of the rebels. Some fled into the houses to escape but these were set on fire and general slaughter took place. Some of the rebels escaped through the grounds of St. Patrick’s College. The dead, including many from Tinryland were buried in the Croppies Grave in Graiguecullen.

Another man to die in the 1798 Rising was Phil Kennedy. He came to Castletown in 1786 as a farm steward to Samuel Faulkner and he helped to convert the old Kavanagh Castle to a farmhouse. Phil Kennedy lived in this house and wrote weekly reports on the progress of the work at Castletown to his boss Sam Faulkner who lived in St. Stephen’s Green.

He lived in Castletown from 1786 to 1795 and went to work for the Butlers of Garryhundon.

Apparently in Garryhundon, there was a troop of yeomanry. Some members of this group were United Irishmen and threatened to murder the Protestant members if they went into action. On a charge of conspiracy connected with this plot, Kennedy was arrested and taken to Carlow and convicted. He was sentenced to death and executed in 1798. It is likely that he is buried in the Croppies Grave in Graiguecullen.

The memorial to those from the Tinryland area who died in the uprising was unveiled at Roche’s Cross on November 22nd 1998.

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