Friday, 25 February 2011

The Bandon Rebellion of 1689

I have already spoken of Bandon as a plantation town of fixed opinion. Indeed, a contingent of Bandonians fought at the Battle of the Boyne on the Williamite side attached to the 'Londonderry Auxiliaries.'

Upon the accession of King James II the town of Bandon was given a new charter and Teige McCarthy of Aglish was made Provost or Mayor of the town on 20th March, 1686. He then commenced to administer the oath of alliegance to James II and to levy troops for the King's cause. To add to the discomforture of the Bandonians, the charter document arrived in the town accompanied by a Priest, suggested to have brought a relic from the Chains of St. Peter. The Bandonians were aghast:

"That charter - that priest! Oh! If he had his will, he'd-! but that link from the iron chain-that symbol of unfettered thought. By the solemn League and Covenant, if I can lay my hands on it, I will make a bob of it to catch eels with!"

By 1st June, the new Provost was forced to issue this proclamation:

"Whereas, several summonses have of late been given to the inhabitants of this corporation to appear and take the oath accustomed for freemen and forasmuch as they refuse and contemn the said summonses. Now we, the said provost and majority of the burgesses, having taken into consideration the wrong and injury that happen unto the corporation thereby, do, and by our mutual assents and consents have ordered that every person, of what trade soever, shall pay six shillings and eightpence sterling per day for using every such trade or occupation, either private or public, after the fifteenth day of June next the date hereof; and the same to be levied on their goods and chattels, and to be disposed of according to law; or their bodies to be imprisoned, through the choice lying in the provost."

Bandon had been garrisoned by a troop of horse and two companies of foot under Captain Daniel O'Neill. On 16th of February, 1689, Captain O'Neill issued a proclamation calling on the inhabitants to deliver up all arms and ammunition within three days. The Bandonians hardly obeyed such a command and Lord Clancarthy promised to march from Cork about noon on the following Monday to bring with him six companies of foot.

The Bandonians were finally provoked by two coincident circumstances. The first was the landing of William of Orange to usurp the throne of the Catholic King James, the second was the declaration by O'Neill that on the Sunday after Clancarthy's arrival the Bandonians would witness the celebration of Mass in the parish church of Kilbrogan.

This was the last straw for the Bandonians, who revolted against the Royal officers. They gathered at the house of Katty Holt, described as a thin, skinny, wicked old woman, whose tongue never stopped unless she was asleep, and who, when she overheard them planning what they should do with the prisoners is said to have replied: "Prisoners! Oh, bring them to me, the popish varlets, and see if I don't scratch their eyes out!"

Early that Monday morning, before the arrival of Clancarthy, the Bandonians gathered. The signal for the beginning of the revolt was to be the ringing of the church bell but the sacristan Jack Sullivan would not ring it. Instead, his wife cried out "O Lord" Spare not the Philistines!" and rang the bell as a signal for the rebels who disarmed the troops while they still slept. Some managed to resist disarmed and eight of the Royal troops were killed, three of them Protestants. The remainder were driven out of the town by the North Gate. Even within living memory Bandonians were called "Black Mondays." For some time after the revolt Bandon was known as 'South Derry' marking the similarity of outlook of the Protestant populace, as well as the anti-Royalist actions taken by each only a few weeks apart.

However, the revolt did not last long as within a few hours the troops arrived from Cork led by the Earl of Clancarthy and Justin McCarthy, later Viscount Mountcashel and founder of the Irish Brigade in the service of France.

The town was invested and the Bandonians called upon to submit. The familiar reply was "No Surrender!" However, the town was take and in the articles of peace, those Bandonians who had disarmed the royalist garrison, under the command of Captain Daniel O'Neill were fined £1,000, "with the demolition of their walls, which were then razed to the ground, and never since rebuilt" Lord Tyrconnell thought they got off too cheap. In a letter, dated March 10th, 1689, he regrets that Clancarty had entered into a treaty with the people of Bandon until those who had formented and carried out the assault upon the garrison had been brought to justice. The rebels of Bandon were later tried and executed at the order of Chief Justice Nugent, son of the Earl of Westmeath and later Baron Nugent of Riverston.

The loyalty of Bandon was to be short-lived also and on 16th July, 1690, with the tide running against King James II, the Bandonians revolted again and declared:

"That the new charter brought and produced by Teige McCarthy, under the government and under the broad seal of this kingdom, had become null and void; and that the old charter be revived and stand in the former house, and elected and appointed Mr. John Nash to be provost of the borough for the year to come; he first taking the the usual oaths, and the oath of loyalty to our gracious sovereigns, William and Mary, King and Queen of England." It was to be more than two centuries before Bandon was to be freed from the shackles of Protestant invaders loyal to Protestant usurpers.

The Earl and later Duke of Marlborough landed at Kinsale in October and began to invest, one after the other, the positions still loyal to King James, the old fort of Kinsale and the Charlesfort. The Regiment of O'Discoll was thrown back from Castletown. The following January, Fox, the Williamite Governor of Cork, put all Papists in the County under a curfew. Limerick capitulated the following October and the last hope for the victory of King James - or for the peacable practice of the Catholic Faith - had gone. As soon as the peace was signed, 4,500 foot soldiers marched into Cork under the command of Patrick Sarsfield, remaining there about a month they set sail for Brest, landing on the 3rd December, 1691. However, those 4,500 represented only a vanguard of those loyal to King James and the cause of Catholic Ireland. It was estimated that between 1691 and 1745, the year of Fontenoy, 450,000 Irishmen died, not to mention those others who fought, in the service of France alone.

At Fontenoy, in rememberance of the honourable terms granted at Limerick that were breached before the ink was dry, the war cry of the Irish Brigade was: "Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach!" - "Remember Limerick and Saxon Perfidy!" We could add Cuimhnigh ar Droichead na Bandan agus feall na Sassonach!


shane said...

A fascinating piece.

On the subject of Ireland and Jacobitism, I recently came across an interesting piece by Dr Richard Hayes in Studies (Irish Jesuit periodical) from 1949. The following is an extract:

“In most features Irish differed from British Jacobitism. The loyalty and devotion to James the Second and to his son and grandson, which stirred the enthusiasm of a considerable proportion of the people of England and Scotland, did not exist in Ireland. By the Irish participants on the side of James the Jacobite War from 1689 to 1691 was not regarded as a fight for a dynasty. The chiefs and nobles, who summoned local followers and led them into battle, had as their pre-dominant motive the regaining of their confiscated lands. They had no affection for James, whom they used merely as an instrument in their designs. Nor was the War a religious one except in a subsidiary way — it was not a struggle between Catholic and Protestant, though it has been regarded as such by the carnal and spiritual descendants of the supporters of William of Orange in north-eastern Ireland. A considerable number of Catholics fought in the Williamite army (its finest regiment, the Dutch Blue Guards, was almost exclusively Catholic), while a substantial number of Protestants were in the army of James. Apart from the fighting forces the Protestant archbishop of Armagh and seven Irish bishops of the Protestant church supported James. A number of high-placed ecclesiastics of the same creed sacrified their worldly prospects by refusing to take the Oath of allegiance to William; the Provost of Trinity College and leading State officials too were Jacobites in conviction. And finally at the beginning of the War James appealed in vain for help to the Catholics Powers of Europe, while the Williamite victory was received with elation in Rome and was celebrated with Te Deums in the Catholic cathedrals of Austria.

[....] James the Second himself had no sympathy — quite the contrary — with the idea of an autonomous or semi-autonomous Irish nation. A few extracts from the Instructions left by him to his son illumine his attitude towards the country — its national status, native culture and traditions.

“Great care must be taken,” he writes, “to civilize the ancient families (of Ireland) by having the sons of the chiefs of them bred up in England ….. by which means they will have greater dependence on the Crown and, by degrees, will be weaned from their natural hatred against the English.” He writes, too, that the garrison towns should not have natives of Ireland as Governors, nor any troops except English, Scotch and strangers, “for the Irish are easily led by their chiefs and clergy”; and he recommends that “the O’s and Macs who were forfeited for rebelling in James the First’s time ought to be kept out of their estates”. No native too, he maintains, should be Lord Lieutenant, and the Irish Parliament must be subordinate to that of England. There is no doubt that James, an intensely patriotic Englishman did not love Ireland and that, had he triumphed, her political status would have remained unchanged.

There was, as has been seen, in the Jacobites of Ireland none of that loyal and romantic attachment to the Stuarts which was so marked in those of Scotland. This is particularly seen in the spirit pervading the Jacobite poetry and ballads of the two countries.Those of Scotland show an intimate personal devotion to the Stuart princes which is absent from those of Ireland. In these latter, immensely smaller in bulk compared with the former, the theme is conventional and lacks the fervour of those of the Highlands. The romantic figure of Prince Charles did often, it is true, inspire the Irish poets. But when their verses are most poignant and spontaneous, it is not of him they sing but of their country’s unhappy fate, the tragedy of her exiled sons and chiefs, and the hope of their return.

shane said...

In this respect they do mirror the state of the nation and of popular feeling. At times too, one of them breaks away from convention and strikes a harsh realistic note: —

King James came over to Ireland

Wearing an English shoe and an Irish brogue

(Do tháinig Righ Seamus chuaghainn go h-Éire

Re na bhróg Ghallda ‘s re na bhróg Ghaolach);

and “it was his coming,” the verse continues, “that took Ireland from us”. Another figures Ireland lamenting bitterly that

It was the second James who crushed my senses

And left me lamenting…

While still another descends to vulgarities in characterizing the dethroned king.

[...]as a result of the going abroad of the chiefs and nobles, the feudal conception of patriotism associated with their caste began to vanish. It gradually gave way to a spirit of democratic nationalism, hitherto unknown, which ultimately materialised in the United Irish movement in the last decade of the eighteenth century, and later in that of O’Connell. The new spirit appeared, as has been said, in the eighteenth-century poets — in the nationalistic note that crept into their verses, in which the Stuarts were forgotten and Ireland and her hopes were sung.

[...]The (Jacobite) campaign makes one of the many tragic chapters of Irish history and marks the crisis in the ill-fortunes of James. [...] His failure was partly due to the fact that he made no study of local conditions; he was convinced that the only grievance was the religious one. Like so many Englishmen before and since, he regarded Ireland as a conquered country to be exploited for the benefit of England. On the other hand, there was little if any affection of disinterested loyal sentiment in the Irish for him. He was, it is true, received with acclamation on his arrival among them; but they were soon disillusioned on finding that their hopes in him were unfounded. D’Avaux the French ambassador, reporting his experiences in Ireland to Louis XIV, wrote that “five months after James’s landing in Ireland he had entirely lost the affection of the Irish people who, at his arrival, had been ready to do anything for him”. And when James arrived in France after his flight on the Boyne reverse, he had already forgotten Ireland — lost to him, he said, by Irish cowardice; and there is no evidence, as Mr. Turner says, that he ever again took more than a passing interest in that country.[...]” (Ireland and Jacobitism, Richard Hayes, Studies, Vol. 38, No. 149 (March, 1949), pp. 101-106)

Shandon Belle said...

Hi Shane, thanks for the excellent comments. Two thoughts strike me from what you say. First is the contrast in the poetry of Ulster and Munster, the Aislings or dream-poems written by Gaelic Irish poets reflect two different impressions of the Stuarts. Ulster, which had direct experience of Jacobite plantation, had a more realistic sense of them while Munster was far more idealistic because they had less embittered experience of them.

The other idea that strikes me is that James II, as you say, was very much the Englishman. I think that his brother Charles was far more frenchified and influenced by continental exile, while James (from the Peyps diaries anyway) seems more 'John Bull and roast beef' English - founder of the Royal Navy, after all. It is a great irony that Charles kept a balance while James created crisis after crisis.

Anthony S. Layne said...

Both this post and the previous on on Bandon, as well as Shane's comments, were just fascinating. If the two of you want to dig a little further into this, I'll be happy to read it!

Convenor said...

Well, shane? Are you willing?

Alyssa said...

REALLY intersting exchange. I also liked this article because it shot a glance into the human beings behind great events. I dont think I liked Katty Holt but she was an interesting character for sure. Good job by everyone.

Joyce F.

Veronica Lane said...

Very intersting story. I don't think I've ever heard of it before.

Charlie said...

There is a lot of irrelevant and extraneous material here. Saxon does not equate with perfidy as you seem to imply. We all know the sufferings of Catholics both in Ireland and Britain but this should not be confused with a seperatist Nationalist agenda. Do you think that James II was Irish?