McQuaid Family Genealogy Forum
I found this on an Irish web site. I,m not sure of the exact location but try vocal@local geneology Ireland. The name Art McQuaide is in the body of the essay. Hope it helps!
THE BALLINAMUCK TALK SOCIETY
by Peadar Ó Duignéain, O.S.
BALLINAMUCK AND '98
A Talk to the Society
On this occasion I welcome you to the Valley of the Black Pig. According to the old legend this fabulous monster rooted up a dyke or ditch extending through County Cavan, entering Longford at Loch Gowna and from there to Ballinamuck, thence to Dromod and other points in Breifne. The black pig was eventually killed somewhere in the Loch Gowna area by an individual endowed with great magical powers. Could it be that the name Béal Átha Na Muice would suggest that here by this ford-mouth the pig came to the end of his rooting?
The Gaelic version of the name Ballinamuck, which has been adopted by the Post Office, is Baile na muc, which means the town of the pigs. This form has been adopted, I would think, to avoid confusion with the Gaelic version of Swinford in County Mayo. It may have the effect of saving the Post Office the trouble of letters going astray, but it has little else to recommend it. There is nothing to suggest that there was a town here at any time in the distant past; as the people of ancient Ireland never built or dwelt in towns, therefore the name Baile na muc has no meaning; and certainly there is nothing to indicate that the place was noted for pigs.
There is another version Béal Átha Na Muice, the ford-mouth of the pig, which I believe is the ancient and proper name of the place. It may be asked where is the ford or ford-mouth which gave the place part of its name. To answer that question I must make a digression. Many of the place-names of the district would suggest that in the dim and distant past there was much more water than at present. Take a few examples: Drumbad-the boat ridge; Cloncowley-the meadow of the fleet; Thunagh-waves or abounding in waves; Aughadowry-the field of the river-holm of the cattle. What a place-name! A river-holm is a hillock or fertile rising-ground on the bank of a river, and when cattle were grazed there it was called a Damhrach. There is a village of that name at the head of Loch Allen in County Cavan; and the Damhrach in Aughadowry was a sandhill later known as a Sidhe hill, and which has been carted away for building and other purposes.
And so, in the long ago, we may take it that the streams of the present day were torrents, that the valleys were flooded, that the old summit of Shanmullagh stood up out of the waste, and that the ford-mouth was somewhere near the bridge which takes the road out of Ballinamuck-where the river once emptied itself into the flooded valley.
Antiquarians now tell us that the valley was a fortification erected by the Ulster men to protect the province from its hereditary enemies, the men of Connacht, and also against the men of Leinster who were pressing northwards. The old people of this district were very conscious of the fact that they lived in this valley. Along with that the Prophecy of Colmcille, in which they had a firm belief, stated that the Orangemen of Ulster would drive down the valley burning and slaughtering, leaving behind them "long nights and bloody blankets." However we may laugh at the foolish fears of these old people the fact remains that, at the time when Carson's Volunteers were drilling and arming, the people here in the valley were quite uneasy, and were envious of those who lived in other and presumably safer, districts. I will return to this fear of the Orangemen in talking about the origins of the people living in this district.
The Pre-Christian Period
There is evidence to suggest that quite a big population lived in this district in pre-Christian times. The Pre-Christian Period. The liosanna, rathanna, dunta or forts are very common. It is held that, if you stand on the site of one fort you will have three others in view. During the past ten years one flint or stone axe-head, three bronze spear heads, and one bronze sword have been picked up by people cutting turf or digging drains. The stone weapon takes us back to the period at least two thousand years before Christ-up to the dawn of the Christian era.
The Black Fort in the immediate vicinity of Ballinamuck is an imposing structure. More than likely it was the residence of a line of great chiefs whose fighting men held the ford mouth against all comers, and in this way the name of the place was perpetuated. Ballinamuck is not the name of a town or townland, but of the most important, the most talked of, and the most fought for spot in the district-the crossing of the river.
Ballinamuck is not one of the noted places of the early Christian period. There is a strong tradition that St. Patrick passed through the neighbourhood- most likely on his way from Granard and Glonbroney to Magh Sleacht where the idol Crom Cruach then stood. It is told that at Tubberpatrick he left one of his footprints. St. Colmcille also wended his way through the district. We learn from his biography, written by St. Adamnan, that he spent a night with St. Modhan at Kilmodhan. St. Modhan is said to have come from Galway along with his brother, who remained at Cluain Geis while Modhan pushed on until he came to a lonely spot which he considered would be an ideal place in which to lead the life of a hermit. St. Colmcille was on his way to Cloone to bid
farewell to the Abbot there before leaving Ireland, and the night fell on him as he passed through a place called Eiscir. Here he was forced to ask for shelter and entertainment from Modhan. This hermit did not like visitors, and St. Colmcille left next day very disappointed with the treatment given to him and his followers. He foretold that Modhan's retreat would never become a great centre of religion.
Kilmodhan has never been famous for learning or religion but it holds the remains of a canonised Saint whose feast day is on March the fifth.
Owen Roe O'Neill
Ballinamuck is mentioned in the memoirs of Owen Roe O'Neill. It was in the vicinity of this place, and more than likely on the great bog, that he gave his final instruction to the most highly trained, the most effective, and the most expertly led Irish army of all time. We read in our school books that Owen was careful to keep his soldiers away from the shebeens and the places where intoxicating drink was available.
It seems that the Ballinamuck of 1646 had nothing so enticing or so seductive as the Pikeman's Bar or the '98 Bar because, if that were the case Owen Roe, strict disciplinarian that he was, would find it difficult to keep his men within bounds. On July 4th, 1646, acting on orders from the Confederation of Kilkenny, he marched to Cavan. On the evening of July 5th he reached Armagh, and history tells how, on the next day, he smashed the two armies of the brothers Munro with a loss of seventy men.
It may be of interest to know that his infantry carried a pike sixteen feet long, and that his men were provisioned with oatmeal cakes and a mixture of oatmeal and butter. His second-in-command was Colonel Richard O'Farrell, and one of his regiments was raised in this county. In 1654 when Sir William Petty surveyed the lands of Ireland in preparation for the Cromwellian Plantation he found little to satisfy himself in the Ballinamuck district. In the townlands of Fardromin and Comakelly were small portions worthy of consideration. The remainder is marked on his map as a wilderness of bog, brake and shrubbery, untilled and most likely untenanted.
The Black Fort is worth a visit, not only for its imposing appearance, but also because it contains on the south-east or sheltered side the traditional Mass Rock of the district. Here the people met for worship during the worst period of the Penal Laws in the early eighteenth century, or during the reigns of Queen Anne and of the first and second George.
About the middle of the eighteenth century a great migration of people to the district began, and the great majority of them came from Ulster. Driven out by Protestant secret societies like the " Peep o' Day Boys," they flocked here in such numbers that there must have been no native population before them. It would seem that for a considerable period before this time much of the district had been uninhabited.
My native townland of Kiltycreevagh was taken over by three Ulster groups. McKennas took the western portion, Donnellys the middle, while the McNamees occupied the northern and eastern part. In Kiltycreevagh they found virgin soil, plenty of bog, branchy woods which gave the townland its name, but apparently no native people. To Fardromin came the Cassidys and Lennons. The habitable portion of Gaigue was occupied by the McQuaides. To Shanmullagh came the Whitneys, O'Reillys and McLoughlins. So complete was this take-over that practically all of the present population is of Ulster extraction:
FERMANAGH: Cassidys, Lennons, McManus's, Corrigans, Larkins, Sheerans, Gillleeces, Brennans, McGuires and Kiernans.
CAVAN: Sheridans, Bradys, Reiillys, Smiths, Dolans, Donohoes, Farrellys and Lynchs.
ARMAGH: McVeys, Pruntys, McPartlins, McNalllys, Heaneys, McGarrs, Garveys, and Grimes's.
MONAGHAN: McKennas, Connollys, Duffys, McQuaides, McCuskers, Gormans, and Sorohans.
TYRONE: Breslins, Hagans, Donnellys, McNamees, Mimnaghs, Mallins, Creegans, Campbells, O'Neills and Lenehans.
DONEGAL: Dohertys, Mulligans, Coles, Ginertys, McLoughlins, Wards and Kennys.
ANTRIM: McGees and Maguirks.
LEITRIM: Heslins, Rourkes, Faughnans, Duignans and Reynolds.
The Longford names Gunshinan, Cullim, Colreavy, Tally, Quinn and Farrell would seem to belong to other parts of the county, and not one of them is numerous enough to give us reason to assume that its bearers formed part of a native population. The great preponderance of Ulster names would explain the fear of the Orangemen to which I have already referred, and which was engendered in these people from their ancestors, who suffered so much in their flight from their homes in Ulster to this wilderness of North Longford.
And now we come to the '98 period when:
With musket, with pike, or with hayfork,
From their homes over mountain and glen
Exulting they mustered for freedom
To fight the old fight once again.
In approaching this account I have given little consideration to the outbursts of men like Lake and Cornwallis on the English side, nor to those of Jobit and others of the French, because each of these was more concerned with the glorification of the arms of his country than with giving a true account of the engage ment which took place on Shanmullagh Hill on Saturday, September 8th, 1798. The English would have us believe that their forces, after a display of the utmost gallantry, won a signal victory, while the French tell us that they surrendered only after a valiant, stubborn, but hopeless resistance.
I believe that very little of the truth lies with either side. I was more interested in the stories from the lives of the local people both before and during the year of the rebellion. From the late Michael Grimes of Kiltycreevagh, a most reliable seanachie, I heard the following at his own fireside. "A year or more before the Rebellion an organiser was sent to the district from Belfast which was the headquarters of the United Irishmen. During the day he was employed as a weaver by Neal Cassidy of Fardromin, while at night he swore the young men into the organisation, drilled and trained them in the use of arms. This was a dangerous occupation because in 1794 it was made an offence punishable by death to administer this oath, and in 1796 a County Down Presbyterian, named William Orr, was hanged on this charge. So this man told his name to nobody. He was known simply as the Northman. Although the pike was the common weapon it was the aim of every member to possess and to use a firearm.
One night the Northman took ten young men from Esker, Breanrisk and Cloncowley on a raid for arms. Their destination was the house of a Protestant in Fearglass South and which is now owned and occupied by one P. J. Duignan. The house and arms were guarded by a Redcoat whom they shot through a gable window. Having taken the arms they set out for home across the meadows of Cloncowley. There the Northman halted the squad and said that there was a trait among them.
They replied that they were all neighbours, knew each other well and that there could be no traitors among them. Their leader said that the traitor must be dealt with there and then, or else they would never see him (the Northman) again. They still held that there was no traitor, and the North man disappeared. On the second morning the ten were taken and lodged in Carrick jail. One of them turned King's evidence and the nine were hanged."
When I asked Mick who the traitor was Mrs. Grimes seized the tongs and ordered him to let the dead rest. Three of the condemned men were brothers from Esker named Grimes, grand-uncles of the story teller.
Paddy Brady of Gaigue showed me an old which was at that time covering a well. Grooves on this stone were caused by the United Irishmen sharpening their pikes on it.
The story of the French expedition to Ireland is so well known that I do not propose to emphasise it here. It consisted of three small ships and numbered eight hundred men. It was led by General Humbert with Sarazin as second-in-command. Another French officer who wrote accounts of the different engagements was Captain Jobit. A landing was made near Killala towards the end of August, 1798. By this time the rebellion in Wexford, Kildare, Offaly, Meath, Antrim and Down had been crushed and there was little likelihood of a Connacht rising but for the fact that the long awaited French assistance had, at last, materialised.
It was a small force but the magic of the fact was that it belonged to that invincible army that had up to then defeated the many enemies of the new French Republic about which the Irish had dreamed for a long time, and about which they told stories and made songs. And so when the men from North Mayo flocked to meet the conquering heroes, Killala fell, Ballina fell, and the English fled before them so hurriedly at Castlebar that the affair there became known as the Races of Castlebar.
At Tuam, Humlbert decided to push into Ulster. Near Collooney, in Co. Sligo, he found English forces blocking his path and a battle was fought at a place called Carraig na gCat. He was again successful, and then decided to turn south- wards. He had heard of large concentrations of pikemen at Granard and other places in Westmeath. His plan now was to link up with them and to march on Dublin; he had changed his mind too often and had given the enemy plenty of time to concentrate their forces around him.
At the crossing of the river Shannon near Drumshanbo a spirited action took place with a regiment known as Crawford's Horse, but the passage was forced and on September 6th the Franco-Irish force reached Cloone.
Here for some strange reason, and against the advice of his officers, he spent two nights, while the English forces closed in. He left Cloone on the morning of the 8th, using straw ropes to draw his cannon; and a rearguard action had to be fought all the way to Ballinamuck. The cannon were dumped in Keeldra lake. On Kiltycreevagh hill a desperate struggle took place, and here a section of the French became separated from the rest and promptly surrendered.
On his arrival at Shanmullagh, Humbert found that the road was held by the enemy and he took up a position on the hill, prepared to make a stand, as he said himself " for the honour of France." The stand was apparently a short one, and the poor dis- illusioned pikemen found themselves on their own, facing the vast forces of Lake and Cornwallis. They retreated across the hill and, now with their backs to the bog, they prepared to sell their lives as dearly as possible. Here five hundred of them were killed and the remainder either surrendered or fled.
Blake, the leader of the Irish, was hanged near the '98 bar and was later buried in Tubberpatrick. Gunner McGee of the Longford Militia having fired his last ball loaded his gun for the last time with pieces of metal. As the gun carriage was broken, two of his comrades held up the gun to discharge. The recoil broke their backs and he was overpowered and cut down. The hanging of the prisoners went on for days until the executioners grew tired of it all. They gave the survivors a kick each and ordered them home: one of the rare occasions in which a kick from the rear was very welcome.
Three local men who took part in the battle were Robin Gill of Fardromin, Edmond O'Reilly of Shanmullagh and Art McQuaide of Gaigue. O'Reilly was killed and the others escaped. O'Reilly, who was killed on that fateful Saturday morning, had been wearing a new suit of frieze. When the noise of battle rolled over Kiltycreevagh hill he came into the kitchen, scooped up some boiled potatoes from a basket on the floor, and rushed out.
That evening or next day it is told that an English soldier came into the O'Reilly homestead carrying a bundle which Mrs. O'Reillly recognised to be her son's new suit. He asked her for a drink and when he raised the noggin to his head the distracted woman used the pounder with such effect across his throat that she killed him on the spot.
The wonder of the battle was that so many made good their escape. When the Mayo men reached home they found their homes being watched and had to go into hiding-many of them on the island of Achill. The account of the Humbert expedition and campaign which I have endeavoured to recapitulate is well known, even to those with an indifferent knowledge of Irish history.
What may not be so generally well known is the following. When Napoleon decided to send this expedition to Ireland his object was simply to embarrass the English, to create a diversion: to force the English to direct their attention to this country at the time when he had decided to attack Egypt. In order to hoodwink them he was not prepared to risk sending a reasonably strong force from his serving army.
Instead, every military prison and guardroom in France was scoured to make up the number. Humbert was told that his was but one of the many expeditions sailing from various French ports for Ireland. When Humbert had sailed Napoleon expressed the hope that never again would he see a single member of the expedition. As if he wished to deny his leader this hope Humbert took every care to save the lives of his precious eight hundred, and whenever fighting had to he done the Irish pikemen were ordered to do it. The Races at Castlebar is probably a great day in the annals of France, but the truth of the matter is that the retreat of the English on that occasion was caused by the defection of the Longford and Kilkenny Militias.
As the redcoats awaited the advance of the Franco-Irish force the Longford Militia, under their Colonel the Earl of Granard, formed the spearhead of the English Army. As the battle was about to begin some of the Longford men threw down their arms, peeled off their red jackets, put them on inside out, picked up their arms and joined the pikemen. A section of the Kilkenny Militia did likewise and the result was that the rest of the army took flight.
At Carraig na gCat the pikemen were ordered to take a battery of English guns. Not being seasoned troops and being exposed to heavy fire they wavered and retreated. Humbert said some very disparaging words about them and their cowardice. So enraged was his aide-de-camp, Bartholomew Teeling, that he spurred his horse, galloped up to the guns, sabered the gunners and captured the battery. Nowhere have I read that the French, on any occasion between Ballina and Balllinamuck, actually crossed weapons with the enemy and in accordance with this opinion not one Frenchman was killed at Ballinamuck.
If anyone doubts what I have just said I would refer him to a history of Ireland by John Mitchel, and Mitchel was one man who never told a lie.
In 1928 at the unveiling of this monument, and again in 1948, there were two great days in Ballinamuck. We had the French Ambassador on one occasion at least, and when I heard both Church and State pay tribute to our gallant French Allies I thought of Blake hanged by the roadside, of Bart Teeling and Matthew Tone on their way to Dublin to be hanged from lamp posts and of the thousand odd pikemen forgotten, deserted, abandoned, and left to their terrible fate.
Clonahard Folk Museum
Of the many suggestions made at the inaugural meeting of our Society in May, 1967, none has come to more rapid, or more happy fruition than the suggestion to provide a local museum. The Folk Museum at Clonahard has had two very successful seasons. A regular stream of interested visitors has proved how worthwhile this effort is. We rejoice that an energetic and dedicated local committee gives us assurance that the project will go from strength to strength. Offers of material for exhibition, or other assistance, and enquiries (we hope) may be addressed to Mr. Paddy Glennon, Kilnasavogue, Longford.
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