Printer version 23rd july 2013 1798 commemoration august 2013
Humbert’s 2nd in
Command, embraces the
body of Patrick Walsh
Crossmolina on the jib in
Ballina on 26th August
Celtic cross from the
Hanging Tree, the Mall
Castlebar, on which Fr
Andrew Conroy, parish
priest Addergoole, was
hung on the afternoon of a
Market day in November
1798 Mayo Commemoration
A Mayo Gathering
16th - 18th
Lahardane Commemorative Events
18th August 2013 @ 11.30a.m & 11a.m. sharp, respectively
Addergoole Cemetery: Annual Mass (11.30a.m.)
This scenic graveyard is Fr Conroy’s, Captain
Mangan’s and James McNamara’s burial place.
Lahardane Village Conroy Memorial: (11a.m.)
A very poignant Commemorative Service; local
MC and narrator, French-Irish re-enactors fresh
from the Battle of Killala making their historic
forced march from Killala to Castlebar to then
re-enact the battle of the “Castlebar Races”.
Lahardane Commemorates 1798
“As in all other recaptured
towns, hangings by the dozen
were the order of the day and
for weeks afterwards rebels
were hunted like game
through the surrounding
who escaped the hangman’s
noose were transported to far
flung British colonies never to
be seen again”.
This then is
the sad tragic
of Addergoole and its envi-
rons involvement in this
invasion. What shines out
through the deep misery and
sorrow is the bravery of those
lost souls, with some humour
in our survival stories. Our
1798 history is vivid. Recall
the 1993 Lahardane Pageant ?
The Mayo 1798 Gathering is
an opportunity for us all to
reflect and remember, rather
than celebrate this campaign.
Capt. Jean Jobit, one of Humbert’s
expedition to Ireland, known as the
last Invasion of Ireland, states in his
account of the French campaign,
written whilst a prisoner awaiting
repatriation in Litchfield England, and
dated 5th November 1798, that the French army set sail from La
Rochelle at 6a.m. on 6th
August with 1,025 men, three thousand
rifles; four hundred pistols; 3 four hundred millimetre cannons
with ammunition wagons; a thousand French uniforms, thirty
thousand measures of powder; and sixty six thousand cartridges.
The expedition disembarked at Kilcummin, Killala, Co Mayo
August 1798. Humbert surrendered on 8th
at Ballinamuck Co Longford, leaving his Irish allies to be
massacred indiscriminately. On 11th
September Humbert and
his troops were taken to Liverpool and imprisoned , officers
then billeted in Litchfield Staffordshire, and all were repatriated
to France two weeks later. There were no reprisals.
The approach taken to the Irish survivors was entirely different.
Some 2,000 were arrested; tried and hanged, or slaughtered; 500
alone were slaughtered on 8th
September at Ballinamuck after the
September Ballina was recaptured. O’Connor says;
The Bounty Hunted
General Trench British Army Proclamation 1798
This Proclamation is for the apprehension, or information
leading to the arrest of, these Crossmolina United Irishmen.
• £300 Bounty: Father Owen Cowley, Parish Priest
• £50 Bounty: Hugh McGuire, Brewer
• £50 Bounty: Hugh McGuire (Jnr)
• £50 Bounty: Edmond McGuire
• £50 Bounty: Pat McHale
Patrick Walsh, Crossmolina: Hanged old Market Square Ballina, 26th
Fr Andrew Conroy, PP Addergoole: Hanged Mall Castlebar, November 1798
William Burke, Carrowkeel: Hanged in Castlebar
James Corcoran, Letternavoge: Slaughtered at his own house, September 1799
Captain William Mangan, Rathbawn: Beheaded Letternavoge, September 1799
James McNamara, Caffoley: Hanged on the now Jack Garret Bridge Crossmolina
Hugh McGuire, Crossmolina: Hanged, May 1799
Father McGowan, Crossmolina: Accidental death, fell from a horse and broke neck
Unknown man, Ballymacredmond, Lahardane: Shot Ballymacredmond
French soldier, buried Knockfarnaught: Cause of death unknown
Fr Owen Cowley, Curate, Crossmolina: Died of hypothermia, 1799
Patrick Walsh: Patrick lived in Gortskeddia, Crossmolina and was twenty years old. Patrick went to Killala on 25th
and met Humbert who commissioned him into the French Army and told him to return to Ballina and recruit.
He was captured by the British, a document given him by Humbert was found in his possession. Patrick was
hanged in the old market place, hours before the French arrived on 26th
August and left on the gibbet. When
the French came through Ballina his swinging corpse confronted them.
Father Andrew Conroy: Fr Conroy lived in a small thatched house, near the present site of McGowan’s
house on the road to Tubbernavine. About midnight on 26th
August, Gen. Humbert
with Bartholomew Teeling , Matthew Tone and some 1,500 French and Irish troops
with Captain William Mangan reached Lahardane. They then spent no more than two
hour there. While the troops rested , Fr Andrew Conroy played host to General Humbert in his house.
In November Fr Andrew Conroy was arrested and brought to Castlebar. At his trial for treason he was accused of:
• Going to Killala to welcome the French invaders
• Showing them the strategic advantage of approaching Castlebar by Bearna-na-geehy
• Intercepting the courier William Burke from Carrowkeel
• Having in his possession revolutionary documents, including some from Hugh McGuire Crossmolina
• Having in his house armed guards in French uniforms
• Having hospitably received the enemies of the King of England.
Found guilty in the morning, that afternoon, a November market day, he was hanged publicly on the Mall. Was
Fr Conroy guilty? See pages 8 and 9 for an opposing view, from someone involved in his trial. Tradition has
it that Fr Andrew Conroy is buried in Addergoole cemetery's old Abbey. Fr Eddie McHale suggests in an article
“Some Mayo Priests of 1798” written in 1991, that Fr Conroy shares a grave with two other priests, Richard
MacHale died in 1810, and James MacHale died 1830, along the inside of the Abbey North wall.
A Travelling Gallows 1798
William Burke: William was carrying a dispatch to the English headquarters at Castlebar telling them of the French-Irish army’s
movements. When he reached Lahardane he met Father Conroy and gave up the papers in his possession. After the defeat of the French
he was on the wanted list. Carrowkeel House was searched, on one occasion he was there but escaped through a secret passage at the
back of the house. About a month later he was captured in a hut in the mountains between Lahardane and Newport, tried by
court-martial and hanged in Castlebar. He was a lieutenant in the British army, and one of the Burke family of Carrowkeel.
James Corcoran: A party of yeomen surrounded James Corcoran’s house in Letternavoge. They were looking for Captain Mangan
after a tipoff and were refused admission to the house. James came out rolling an oak chest; he was shot in the skull with two bullets.
Captain William Mangan: William guided Humbert’s troops to Castlebar and was involved throughout the campaign.
He then spent twelve months on the Ballycroy hills. Whilst making his way to Cum, he stopped at James Corcoran’s
house Letternavoge. After shooting James the soldiers called on William to surrender, he refused. They then set fire to
the thatch. He ran through the fire and smoke, as he was jumping over a wall, a soldier hit him with a flagstone. He was
shot several times and his head cut off. This was then put on the gates at Gortnor Abbey, the British encampment.
Captain Mangan’s sword still survives locally.
Local folklore has it that he is buried in Addergoole Graveyard; the location of his grave is unknown. There are several
unnamed graves around the old abbey, like the one shown here. William had been granted an official pardon three
days before he was slaughtered.
James McNamara: James was hanged in Crossmolina on what is now the Jack Garrett Bridge and is probably buried in Addergoole.
Hugh McGuire: Hugh was a brewer from Crossmolina. His brewery was on Church St. He met Humbert at Killala with his three sons on
23rd August 1798 and the family was heavily involved in the campaign. He was captured in May 1799, tried, convicted and hanged.
Father McGowan: Fr McGowan was arrested. There was insufficient evidence to convict him and he was released. Musgrave suggested
in 1802 that Fr McGowan fell from his horse and broke his neck. Fr Harte, PP Addergoole at the unveiling of
the Conroy Memorial Lahardane in August 1937 said his accidental death deprived the yeomen of hanging him.
He died on 11th April 1800 and is buried in the Kilmurry old cemetery. The writing on his slab gravestone is now
largely eroded by the weather. Enniscoe Heritage Centre surveyed the graveyard in 1980’s, its survey number is 842
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
In the hope of a happy resurrection. Here lay the remains of Rev. Dean McGowan, Pastor of Crossmolina
and Cannon of Grangemore who by his virtues and merit and the affability of his manner endeared himself
and cared for his parishioners with the greatest regret of all he departed this life in the year o f our Lord 1800 and in
the 38th year of his age. Erected by his nephew the Rev. John Hopkins P.P. of Screen.
Unknown local man: Local oral tradition has it that a man was shot in 1799 and buried in Ballymacredmond, Browne’s land. Two men
were coming from a funeral. There was a curfew and the yeomanry were out. A woman was also going towards Lahardane. A soldier
aimed at the woman but another put his rifle barrel under the gun barrel and lifted it. The woman escaped, but the soldiers fired at one of
the men and killed him. There was a pile of stones in the field up until the late 1960’s. Long ago, if you were passing where a person
killed was buried, you would throw a stone on the grave.
French soldier: There is a local oral tradition of a French soldier having been buried in the townland of Knockfarnaught, also a Bronze
and Iron Age Settlement, on the way from Lahardane to Bofeenaun. The site of the grave is not marked. The story was
told to 9 year old Darren Leonard in 1997 when he was researching his article on Knockfarnaught for the book on
Lahardane National School 150 years’ celebration. Bridgie Sharkey of Knockfarnaught who was then 81 years told him,
and also Michael Flynn, Tubbernavine, a local historian who was then in his seventies; sadly both have died. Other local
people have also had the story passed down.
Father Owen Cowley: Owen was parish priest in Crossmolina. On the run with a bounty of £300 for his capture, he died of hypothermia,
whilst hiding in Muingwar bog, Castleconnor. He is buried in Killanley old cemetery, the plaque says:
"Pray for the soul of Fr Cowley P.P. Crossmolina sought by Crown Forces for kindness to ’98 Patriots. Died piously in hiding at
Muingwar in 1806 and was buried in this Holy Ground. R.I.P.”
Other sources state the year of Fr Cowley’s death as 1799.
Banished, Exiled, Forcibly Conscripted, Transported
Anthony Daly, Boughadoon: Anthony, known as Carraig Tony, had a cave on Nephin. He was captured and forced into
the British army and sent to India, but after several years came home and lived out his life in Boughadoon.
Hugh and Ned McGuire, Crossmolina: Both were accused at their trial of being notorious and desperate rebel captains and
forced into the British army, and sent to Germany.
Roger McGuire (Jnr), Crossmolina: Roger was captured on 26th
September 1798, tried, convicted and transported for life
to Botany Bay. Australian convict records show that he departed Cork on the Friendship as a political prisoner on 24th
August 1799, arriving in New South Wales on 24th April 1800.
Patrick Fleming, Addergoole: Patrick was tried, convicted and transported, the destination is unknown.
Barretts Lahardane; Jordans Derryhillagh; John & Pat Joyce Glenavenue; Father Thomas Monnelly, Backs Parish
Knockmore; Father David Kelly Ballycroy; Larry Gillespie Addergoole; Gaughan Caffoley;
Páidin a Choga Rathkell.
Some Escape Stories
Father Thomas Monnelly: He was captured in November 1799, banished to New Geneva, but escaped to USA, settling in
Maryland. New Geneva was in Crook Parish, Co Waterford. Occupied by the British military from 1798 to 1824, it was a
prison for Irish patriots, and features in “The Croppy Boy”, a 1798 song .“My sentence passed and my courage low. To New
Geneva I was forced to go.”
Gaughan: He had a mill and was a wheelwright. He was jailed in Castlebar. Along with two others he made a hole in the
wall, stripped off his clothes because he could not get through the hole at first, escaped and fled to Nephin Mountain.
Larry Gillespie: Imprisoned in either Ballina or Castlebar jail, his wife visited with a bottle of poteen for his guards. Larry
and the wife then swapped clothes. He escaped, fled to safety on Nephin Mountain and eventually made his way to France.
After 17 years he returned to find his wife had remarried!
Páidin a Choga: Páídin fought through the campaign and survived. When he was dying he asked Liam Fleming, whose
father Patrick had been transported, to play the “White Cockade” over his grave. He gave him 17 shillings for that. This is a
traditional Scottish tune commemorating Bonnie Prince Charlie’s campaign to reclaim Scotland for the House of Stuart
during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. The Prince had a white rose on his bonnet as a symbol of rebellion. In 1790, Robert
Burns, the Scottish poet, set the lyrics: “He takes the field wi’ his White Cockade.”
John & Pat Joyce: This information was provided by 11 year old Laura Blake, handed down from her great, great, great,
great grandfather. John, 19 and Pat 17 years both joined the French forces in Killala and fought to Ballinamuck. When the
French surrendered, there was no news in Glenavenue of John and Pat. Six months later news came, John was alive and well
in France. Five years later he arrived home. His story is that after the French surrender, he took to the bogs and hills with
seven comrades. The Red Coats were shooting and hanging the rebels as they found them. English officers on horseback
slashed rebels to bits, enjoying it. John and his companions hid in bog holes for two days until the hunt died down. He then
met up with Owen Gallagher, a Donegal fisherman. The only friendly face on the run was a smile from a badger! They met
some other fishermen, known to Owen. John then made his way to France, first working looking after horses and then in a
winery. John returned to France after coming home in 1804. What happened to Pat Joyce is not known.
A dry rocky place, high on Nephin Mountain for an escape haven
The Abbey in Addergoole
graveyard where Fr Andrew
Conroy is buried, and the
MacHale tomb that he is
said to be buried in. His
name does not appear in
the Latin inscription.
There are several unnamed graves around and in the Abbey where Captain Mangan and James McNamara could be buried.
Éirinn go Brách Flag United Irishmen Badge
Interestingly in 1798 the route was mapped
and printed, as this image of page 219 in
Taylor and Skinners Maps of the Roads of
Ireland produced in 1778 shows. Fr Conroy’s
house was where the old thatched cart house
was at the back of McGowan’s house about a
mile outside Lahardane. There is also a place
some little way behind it: “logán na haltóra”,
“place of the altar”; a hollow between two
rock outcrops, a natural place where people
could not be seen, someone could stand on the
rocks and observe the road, while a Mass was
Maxwell, writing forty five years after the
Castlebar Races is very critical of the British
forces lack of understanding of the strategic
importance of the route, see page 8. He says
that the route through Lahardane was
disregarded by the British commanders as
being impractical. In his opinion they had yet
to learn the art of war and on 27th
1798 Humbert gave them a very practical
lesson. Only for a yeoman, tending his cattle
on the Gap Road, saw the advancing troops,
the assault on Castlebar would have been a
complete surprise. The French - Irish victory
at Castlebar Maxwell describes as:
“Almost impossible to conceive anything more disgraceful
and unaccountable than the defeat of the royalist army at
Fr Conroy’s contribution to that victory was
unique. The Races of Castlebar may not have
happened, but for our Soggarth Aroon.
In 1898 a poem by Rooney “The Priest of
Addergool” won first prize in a competition
organised by the Weekly Freeman. On 23rd
August 1898 the foundation stone for the Men
of 1798 was laid in Ballina. It now stands on
Humbert Street with Father Andrew Conroy’s
name on it. See page 10.
The French troops marched down the public
road at the back of Enniscoe House, now a
private road called; “French Avenue”. The
story is that they stopped briefly in the field in
front of the house to eat, and built fires using
timber scaffolding taken down from the house
which had just been extended. They also
helped themselves to wine from Colonel
George Jackson’s cellar. It is not clear when
Humbert’s Route to Castlebar
this happened, but it was probably Sunday 26th
on their way to Castlebar. According to Captain Jean Louis Jobit, Humbert’s
army left Ballina at 4pm, arriving at Sion Hill Castlebar around 6am the following day, having spent two hours in the
Lahardane locality with Fr Conroy. George Jackson’s name is on the official Mayo list for loss and damage in 1798. His
claim for the loss of a horse, wine, cattle and furniture was £2,151-3s-6d. A section of the road in the estate still goes by the
name of French Avenue. It forms part of a looped walk for the public, starting at the Mayo North Heritage Centre.
2,000 French and Irish routed a force of 6,000 British.
Father Bernard Dease’s sworn testimony given 25th September 1798
Fr Dease gave Lord Portarlington of the British authorities a sworn statement implicating Dr Bellow (titular
Bishop of Killala) and others, including Fr Andrew Conroy and three other local priests, in assisting the French.
His three page sworn statement below helped sign Fr Conroy’s death warrant in Castlebar some two months later.
The Examination of the Rev Bernard Deace of Kilglass near Ballina, who being duly sworn.
That at the time the French attempted to land at Bantry Bay, there was a form of thanksgiving ordered to be read in
all the chapels for the dispersion of the French, his R.C. Bishop, Doctor Bellew called a meeting of his clergy, and
in particular called Deponent aside, and he heard he gave a very handsome exhortation of the subject though he was
not in the habit of doing so on more important matters, and enjoined Deponent to secrecy of what he said to him, on
pain of sequestration of his Parish. He asked Doctor Bellow what should be done about repairing his chapels that
were out of repair. He advised him not to mind them for what he hoped soon to have better chapels, as the churches
would be converted into chapels. And said that the French were dispersed by the storm, they would come again
shortly, and therefore advised Deponent not to be intimidated by that misfortune and at the same time advised
deponent and others not to mix with the Protestants who he called Blacks. That about March last at a meeting of his
clergy, he called Deponent aside (for he spoke to every Priest separately and enjoined them not to tell to one
another what he said to them) desired him to have courage for they would certainly see the French in the following
month of April and then we shall get released of all our suffering, and the hardships we have endured for such a
number of years, and that then was the moment for every good Irishman to be alive in the general cause, and in
assisting the French as much as he was able.
Deponent further said that about the end of June last, Doctor Bellow renewed his charge to his clergy not to mix
with Protestants, under the severe penalty of suspension or deprivation of their Parishes; and said there was another
meeting of the same set since, in which Doctor Bellow seemed to be in despair of the French Landing, as it had
been promised long since and did not know what to think of it, if the French did land before Michaelmas.
Deponent further said that when the French did land at Killala the Bishop’s brother, Major Bellow was one of the
first that went down to join the French (3 words indecipherable) within 5 miles of Ballina since that in the
mountains in Culcarney near Captain O’Dowd in the home of Martin Hardy in (1 word indecipherable).
Father Bernard Dease, Parish Priest Addergoole 1783
Father Bernard Dease was the parish priest of Addergoole in 1783, but by 1786 he was Kilglass Co Sligo. Richard
Musgrave says this in 1802 of Dease’s 1798 Rebellion involvement.
“From the following circumstance, we cannot be surprised at the active part which the popish priests took in the
rebellion in the counties of Mayo and Sligo. Captain Nicholas Ormsby, of the Tireragh yeomen cavalry, was
quartered in Easkey, in the county of Sligo, soon after the French landed. Having been informed that numbers of
the lower class of people has assembled at some distance from his quarters, and had collected a large quantity of
cattle for the use of the French, he proceeded to the spot where the event took place, and rescued the cattle and
dispersed the people. When he was on the point of returning, a woman told him, that Father Dease, a popish priest,
was at a short distance , enlisting for the French; and having advanced a little further, he saw a great number of
people ready to join them. Three of his corps were far before the main body. One of them, who preceded the rest
galloped by Father Dease, who snapped a pistol at him. The next yeoman who came up, galloped swiftly by Dease,
and fired a pistol at him, but missed him. Dease was cocking his pistol to fire at the third yeoman, who was coming
up, but Mr Jeremiah Fury, a gentleman of fortune though a private, sized his arm before he could effect it, and
made a prisoner of him. When Captain Ormsby arrived, they were on the point of hanging him; but as he fell on his
knees, implored mercy, and promised to make a full confession of what he knew, they spared his life. He then
declared, what he afterwards solemnly and deliberately confirmed, sworn before a magistrate, that Doctor Bellew,
the titular bishop of the diocese, encouraged his diocesan clergy, at a general meeting of them to rise on the present
occasion; and that it was at his instigation that they were active in assisting the French. The pistols which they
found in Dease’s possession were French.”
Rebellions in Ireland, Richard Musgrave 1802 (pages 135 - 136)
James Conroy, Parish Priest of Adergool, in
the barony of Tyrawly and county of Mayo, a
few weeks before the invasion of the French,
took the oath of allegiance, in his chapel, and
in the presence of some hundreds of his flock,
who followed his example; and he exhorted
them from the altar to be loyal to the king and
obedient to the laws, in a long speech,
conceived in such forcible language, that the
magistrate, who administered the oath, was
convinced of his sincerity; and yet, in violation
of it, he repaired to Killala, which was twenty
miles distant, as soon as the French landed
there, embarked warmly in their interest, and
was the first person who showed them the
practicability of marching to Castlebar, by
Barnageehy, instead of the usual road by
As his house was in their route, he
entertained the French and rebel officers: He
converted his chapel into a guard-house for
them, his mansion was their banqueting-house,
and the oxen which they took from his
neighbours were slaughtered in one of his
It has since discovered, that a messenger had
been dispatched to general Hutchinson, to
inform him that the French were advancing
towards Castlebar, by Crossmolina, instead of
Foxford; but Conroy and his coadjutor stopped
him, made him swear the United Irishmen’s
oath, and enrolled him in the rebel ranks. His
name was William Burke. He was afterwards
hanged at Castlebar. The stopping him was the
occasion of many calamities to this kingdom.
Conroy, conscious of his guilt, and fearing
that he should be arrested, kept guards
constantly round his house, after the arrival of
our troops at Killala; but a party detached by
general Trench surprised his videttes, killed
two of them, wounded a third, and took the
fourth prisoner. They were all in French arms
and uniforms. They found in his house a
French carabine, and some cartridges; a printed
proclamation of the French, offering liberty
to the people of Ireland; and the entire
correspondence which had taken place between
him and one Maguire of Crossmolina, a noted
He was hanged at Castlebar, without either
confessing or denying his guilt; and though he
was sure of eternal salvation for having
opposed an heretical state in support of the true
faith, he had scarce sufficient strength to
ascend the fatal step.
Deponent further said that about the 1st
September last, the son of John McLoughlin of Newport came in to Killala
to join the rebels with 250 men , that Walter Burke of Easkey also brought in 75 men (two words indecipherable),
Thos Farrell of Culcarney 60 men; Pat O’Hara near Tubbercurry, 70 men; 3 brothers of the name of Kane, of whom
Mic Kane was made Captain, who came in with men. That General Kane who came over with the French, is a
Priest, and (4 words indecipherable) on the revolution in France, he had been working at the Invasion of Ireland,
until he gained his point and he is now at the head of the Rebels in Killala. This Deponent knows that 4 Priests
David Kelly of Ballycroy - Thos Monely of Backs - James Conroy of Addergool, Owen Cowley of Castleconnor
were very certain in bringing in men to the French from their several Parishes.
Deponent said that (2 words indecipherable) and his brother from (1 word indecipherable), three miles from Killala
joined the French.
Deponent said that General Kane told him ten men of war would come from French when they would attack ships
by land and water, and (1 word indecipherable) that he intended taking all the Orange men he could find, and when
he went to battle to put them in the front without mercy. Sworn before me this 25th
day of September 1798 at Mayo.
The deponent is the term for the person making the statement.
History of the Irish Rebellion 1798, W H Maxwell 1854 (pages 232 - 233)
232 HISTORY OF THE
...that Humbert would advance, made the necessary
dispositions to receive him. At the time, two roads, both
now generally disused, connected Ballina with Castlebar.
One, by the east of Lough Conn, passed through the small
town of Foxford, crossing the river Moy, there a deep
wide river, by a long and narrow bridge. This, the lower
road, was by far the easiest by which an army could
advance; and to defend this pass, the Kerry regiment,
some companies of the line, and a yeomanry corps, with
two battalion guns, were detached by General Hutchinson,
and General Taylor arriving at Foxford, took the
command. By this, the lower road, it was supposed that
the French only could approach, while the upper line,
running westward of Lough Conn, was disregarded, as
But nothing could be more erroneous than the idea that
the mountain road was not easily traversed by men in light
marching order as Humbert’ troops were. They had
brought with them only two light four-pounders, called in
the parlance of the day, curricle-guns. There was an
abundant supply of peasants to carry them over any height
and but for the defects of the carriages, the cannon would
have been little impediment to the march. The point in
that route, which was considered by the commanders at
Castlebar to be a Thermopyle without the trouble of
defence, was the pass of Barnageeragh. Looking down on
the Tyrawly side, it is certainly formidable to any
approaching it directly; but on either side, half an hour
would turn it without trouble, and Sir Richard Musgrave is
sadly in error, when he says, “that one company with a
battalion gun posted there would have checked the
progress of the French.” In false confidence that the
invaders must advance by the lower road, the upper one
was totally neglected. British generals had yet to learn the
art of war, and Humbert gave them a practical lesson on
the memorial 27th
Humbert had made himself well acquainted with the
country between himself and the royalists, and determined
to advance by the mountain road. Keeping his intention
profoundly secret, he announced his design of marching
direct on Foxford, which intelligence, as he had expected
and intended, was conveyed to head-quarters at Castlebar.
To give stronger colour to the deception, he took the
lower road on his departure from Ballina, but on reaching
a cross-road two miles from the town, he wheeled to the
right, and marched rapidly towards the pass of
So perfectly satisfied were the British generals that
Humbert’s movements would be by Foxford, that accident
alone prevented the surprise from being complete. A yeo-
man, who had a mountain farm in the immediate vicinity
of the pass, had been as early as three in the morning ex-
amining his cattle and observed a strong column of men
dressed in blue advancing rapidly towards Barnageeragh,
IRISH REBELLION 233
he galloped into Castlebar, and alarmed the garrison.
General Trench proceeded in the direction of the pass,
but at a league from the town his escort was fired at by the
French advanced guard, and the yeoman’s report too truly
confirmed. The garrison, already under arms, marched to
the position marked out by the generals the preceding day,
forming on a range of rocky heights north of the town,
which ran in the direction east to west, and commanding a
rising ground at a thousand yards distance, which
Humbert must of necessity cross under the fire of
The royalists were formed in two lines, crowning the
heights of the position. The first, consisted of the
Kilkenny militia, some regulars (the skeleton of the 6th
and a party of the Prince of Wales’s fencibles, the Fraser
fencibles and Galway yeomanry formed the second line.
To the left of the Kilkenny regiment, and in a valley in
their rear four companies of the Longford militia were in
reserve. The bulk of the cavalry, part of the 6th
guards (carabineers), and 1st
fencible, were drawn up in
the rear of the first line; the artillery were a little
advanced; two curricle-guns being on the right of the road,
under the command of Captain Shortall, and parallel to
them, the battalion-guns of the Kilkenny militia were in
position in front of that regiment, and on the left of the
At eight o’clock the French appeared, marching in close
column, and Humbert examined the royal position and the
formidable force to which he was opposed. Before he
crowned the ridge, he covered his grenadiers with a body
of rebels in French uniforms, to draw on them the fire of
A gentleman still living, to whom I am indebted for valu-
able information, alludes in part of his correspondence to
the execution of an aged priest, who, according to Sir
Richard Musgrave, acted as a French commissary, and
recruited actively for the invaders. Between Musgrave’s
hearsay authority, and the direct testimony of one of the
old man’s judges, the reader will form his own opinion
touching the guilt or innocence of the condemned priest:-
“I was despatched with two hundred men and two field-
pieces to occupy the celebrated pass of Barnageeragh, an
extremely strong defile, where a few men, well posted,
ought to check the advance of a large force. Having rode a
few miles to reconnoitre in front of the pass, I reached the
house of a priest who had been charged with acting as
commissary to the French.
History of the Irish Rebellion 1798
History of the Irish Rebellion 1798
Hanged like a Dog, History of Mayo,
Extracts, Western People
The old man came out and surrendered himself, requesting
to be conveyed to Castlebar, and protecting his perfect
innocence, with a strong assurance that he had acted under
terror, and with the sole intention of saving life.
I subsequently sat on the court-martial which tried that poor
man, and strenuously voted against the sentence which
condemned him, but he was subsequently executed. Having at
the time taken considerable pains to ascertain the facts, I
declare it to be my sincere conviction, that the man acted
altogether under fear, and against his own inclination, and I
say this the rather that Sir Richard Musgrave has given a very
different colour to the case.”
FATE OF A DEVOTED PRIEST
The sister of Archbishop MacHale has left an interesting
MSS account of the scenes at Nephin in 1798 when Humbert
and the French expedition filed past on their memorable
march through the Windy Gap for Castlebar. Little John, the
future Archbishop who became widely known as “The Lion
of the West,” then seven years old, witnessed the remarkable
spectacle from his hiding place under a stook of flax. “ It was
in truth, an imposing if not an awful spectacle to the eyes of
one so young----that long array of blue coated infantry and
horsemen, with bayonets, sabres and burnished helmets
glistening in the sun as regiment after regiment passed silently
along, with their scouts thrown out far forward to reconnoitre,
and the heavy artillery wagons thundering along the valley of
Tubernavine, the battalions unmolested and unmolesting,
looking to the eye of the boy watcher like some mighty
serpent with flaming crest and glistening scales winding its
slow length between the overhanging majesty of Nephin and
the silent peaceful waters of the lake nestling below in the
entrance of the vast hills. As the last man of the invaders
disappeared behind the bend of the road, the boy, expecting
some encounter with the advanced British outposts, gained the
very crest of the slope and waited till in the far blue distance
he beheld the sheen of bayonets, sabres and helmets lighting
up the gloomy sides of the Ox mountains, and passing,
unopposed, beyond the lofty barrier of the Windy Gap…..
….The day after he had seen the blue-coated French legions
disappear over the lofty crest of the Windy Gap ridge the
distant booming of artillery awoke the echoes along Mount
Nephin and told of the conflict going on with the British
forces at Castlebar. The success which in the first moment of
surprise the small number of men under Humbert met with
was soon turned into irretrievable defeat….
… Some of the French officers had entered the lowly abode of
Fr Conroy on their way to Glen Nephin, and the courageous
pastor, who had remained at his post to watch over and protect
his flock in the hour of danger, could only prevent the
invaders from molesting the defenceless peasantry by treating
the Frenchmen with courteous civility. His frequent
denunciation of the French Revolution and its abettors were
well known beyond the limits of the parish of Addergoole….
….Dennis Browne had Fr Conroy arrested and dragged to
Castlebar. He assembled a court martial there and arraigned
before it Fr Conroy on the specious charge of having been in
treasonable correspondence with the invaders…..
...This gentle and heroic priest was not given a single hour’s
reprieve, but taken forthwith from the hotel, where his judges
sat, he was hanged to the branch of the nearest tree…
….Down the deep pass of the Windy Gap streamed the
thousands who had come to honour the saintly dead.
Thousands covered the steep acclivities on each side of the
road, and all the way down to the gentle hills above Lake
Lavella. And high, piercing the very sky, rose the wail of the
women as the funeral procession, carrying the corpse of the
murdered priest, first showed itself in the gorge….
….Some years ago, when Mr Larminie, agent of the Earl of
Lucan, and now one of the oldest men in the county, was
Chairman of Castlebar Urban Council, the members proposed
to erect a memorial on the site of the tree on which the priest
was hanged……., but as agent of the lord of the soil, he called
attention to the document conveying the Green as a park, and
the project lapsed.
The arrival of the French at Killala in the autumn of 1798
was the occasion of many acts of devotion to Ireland, and
none more so than that of the Very Rev. Andrew Conroy P.P.,
Addergoole, the ancient name of the parish of Lahardane,
North Mayo. He gave his life on the scaffold for his country,
and to commemorate the glorious memory of his supreme
sacrifice a beautiful Celtic cross 15ft 9ins in height was
unveiled in Lahardane on Sunday.
Western People 2nd January 1932
Western People 21st August 1937
The Priest of Addergool, National Recitations, (pages 13 - 15)
A TRUE STORY OF 1798
The arrival of the French in Killala was an occasion of
many an act of devotion to Ireland. One of the most
notable was that of Father Andrew Conroy, P.P of
Addergool, who, having intercepted a message bearing
tidings of the landing of the French to Castlebar, wakened
his entire district, made a series of maps to guide the
French, and headed his parishioners to their support.
Father Conroy was hanged in Castlebar but his name
and story are still well known around the fires of Mayo.
The ballad faithfully follows the history of his act and
the sacrifice it occasioned.
There’s someone at the window, Tap! Tap! anew;
Sharp the silent midnight it speeds the cottage through,
“Some poor soul speeding onward, some sudden call to go,
Unshriven on the pathway we all of us must go.
Thus muses he, that sagart, as from his couch he flies
And opens the window where wonder widens eyes
Look into this, and accents with haste all husky spake;
“The French are in Killala, and the all the land’s awake!
“ ’Twas William Burke that told me as riding he went by
With letters for the Saxons in Castlebar--and I
Came hot upon his footsteps to tell you all I knew
And let you teach the people what’s best for them to do!”
There’s silence for a second--out speaks the sagart then--
“I’ll follow him that told you; you gather all the men;
Keep watch beside the houses till I come back to you--
And God to guide our counsels, we’ll then see what to do!”
The priest is in the saddle and down the road he flies,
A while his echoed paces upon the silence rise,
Then melt into the distance, while figures, one by one,
Steal out from gloom and shadow and muster in the bawn.
The moonlight floods the mountain, no horseman hies in sight,
No sound comes up the valley to break the hush of night;
Yet on the sargart presses and close beside the town,
Still wrapped in dream and slumber, he runs his quarry down.
A moment more the messenger has yielded up his load,
Another, and a penitent, he’s kneeling on the road;
There in the solemn moonlight he pledges hand and heart,
He’s knelt a slave--he rises now to do a true man’s part.
’Tis done, and ere that noontide pours over hill and glen,
In Ballina they’re standing, that sagart and his men;
His part in o’er, he may not lift the brand in bloody fray;
But he hath seen his duty, and shown his flock the way.
A few short weeks, the noonday sun shines over Castlebar,
Triumphant through the country rides ruin near and far;
And on a scaffold proudly a pries stands bound--’Tis he,
Who rode him through the midnight for Ireland’s Liberty!
There’s many a lonely hearth-stone to-night in wide Mayo,
There’s many a gallant heart content again can never know
But darkest woe and grief for him the saintly true and tried,
Who on the Saxon scaffold that day for freedom died.
We’ll shrine his name and story bright to guide us on,
Till hope has reached its haven, till gloom and grief are gone;
Till free men’s hands may fashion the name and fame on high,
Of all who trod that pathway and showed the way to die.
William Rooney Dublin
Founder of Castlebar’s first Public Library 1898
Mother Ireland Memorial, Humbert Street Ballina, erected 1898
Addergoole Its Land and People, Tony Donohoe, Carrick Print 2000 Ltd, Carrick On Shannon Co. Leitrim, (2000)
Bald’s Map of Mayo 1809 page 17, Mayo County Library, Castlebar www.mayolibrary.ie/en/LocalStudies/MayoMaps
Bishop Stock’s Narrative of the Year of the French 1798, Gratten Fryer, Irish Humanities Centre Terrybaun Bofeenaun Ballina Co
Connaught, A Tale of 1798, Matthew Archdeacon, J. Taaffe Fownes’s Street Dublin, (1835)
Crossmolina Parish, An Historical Survey, Crossmolina Historical And Archaeological Society, Ballina Printing Co, undated,
Dear Old Ballina, Terry Reilly, Western People Printing Ballina Co Mayo, (1993), pp.81-93
History of Crossmolina, Tony Donohoe, Edmund Burke Publisher Blackrock Co Dublin, (2003), pp.15-24
History of the Irish Rebellion in 1798, William Hamilton Maxwell, Bell & Daldy Fleet Street Covent Garden, (1854)
History of the Rebellion in Ireland in the year 1798 &c, Sir Richard Musgrave, J Cooke Almond Quay Dublin, (1802)
Humbert’s Expedition – A Lost Cause?, John Cooney, Western People Ballina Co Mayo, (1998)
In Humbert’s Footsteps Mayo 1798, Stephen Dunford & Guy Beiner, Fadó Books, Westprint Ltd Enniscrone Co Sligo, (2006)
Ireland and Switzerland: Old and New Geneva, Ita Marguet, January 2007, http://www.emigrant.ie
Fr Andrew’s House 1798 & Place of the Altar, Interview Teresa & John (Jnr) McGowan, Michael Molloy, May 2013,
Knockfarnaught, Darren Leonard, Celebrating 150 Years of Primary Education in Lahardane NS 1847- 1997, (1997) , pp. 88-89
Maps of the Roads of Ireland, Taylor and Skinner, J Wilfon Dame St Dublin, (1778), p.219
The French are in Our Fairgreen - 1798, Toss Gibbons, Rathkell National School Centenary 1907-2007, (2007), pp.9-11
The French Invasion of Connaught, Jack Munnelly, Western People Printing Ballina Co Mayo, (1998)
’98 Celebrations, 150th
Anniversary commemorated in Ballina and Killala, Carmel Hughes, Cumann Staire Agus Seandálíochta,
Bliainiris ’83-’84, Vol. 1 No. 2, (1983), pp. 27-35
Shooting Ballymacredmond, Taped Interview, Martin McHale, Aughalonteen, Cannon Boland, Parish Priest Addergoole, (1977)
Some Escape Stories, Written Submission, Laura Blake, Carrowkeel, Castle, Ballina, (2013)
Some Mayo Priests of 1798, Rev E McHale, North Mayo Historical Journal 1991-1992, Vol II No 5, North Mayo Historical &
Archaeological Society, Westprint Ltd Enniscrone Co Sligo, (1991), pp.11-12
The Last Invasion of Ireland, Richard Francis Hayes, Dublin Gill and MacMillan, (1937)
The Parishes in the Diocese of Killala (I), Rev E McHale, Western People Ballina Co Mayo, (1985)
Trouble & Strife: Fifty Killala Priests 1600 - 2000, Brendan Hoban, Banley House Rathmines Dublin, (2012)
Priest of Addergool, A True Story of 1798, National Recitations, Irish Book Bureau Upper O’Connell St Dublin, (+1916), pp. 13-15
Rebellion Papers (620/40/58), Rev Bernard Dease, National Archives Dublin, (1798)
The Races of 1798, Brian Hoban, http://www.towns.mayo-ireland.ie
1798 Hanging of Fr Conroy, Lahardane Pageant Happy 21st
, KPS Colour Print Knock Co Mayo, (2007), pp.14-25
Wolfe Tone Jean Joseph Amable Humbert
Ballinamuck 1798 Pike Men Memorial erected 1928
Produced by Michael Molloy, Aughalonteen, Lahardane & Printed by Business Supplies, Garden Street, Ballina, Co Mayo
Final page of Fr Bernard Dease’s sworn statement
The three page statement in longhand script, dated 25th September 1798, is signed by Fr Bernard Dease
and Lord Portarlington. As you can see some of the handwriting is quite difficult to read, but have a go!
Brendan Hoban in Fifty Killala Priests 1600 – 2000 tells us that Fr Dease was imprisoned in Dublin on
October 1798 and remained there until his release in February 1800. On 29th
November 1799 Fr
Dease wrote to Lord Cornwallis, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, seeking release on the grounds that he
had assisted the British authorities in putting down the Rebellion by supplying under oath;
“the names of the most remarkable rebels he had seen, there five whereof has been since sent to
eternity, viz, Richard Burke of Ballina, Rev James Conroy of Addergoole, Captain O’Dowd of
Culcarney, one of the McGuires and Major Bellow, brother to Doctor Bellew ......”