1798 PERIOD OF UNREST IN THE MYSHALL DRUMPHEA AREA
Myshall/Drumphea is an area steeped in 1798 memories and the two men most associated with the rebellion in Myshall were the Rebel leader Captain James Nolan and the local magistrate and landlord Robert Cornwall who resided at Myshall Lodge a building situated where the Lawn is now, in fact the Lawn was that of the big house. The following is a summary of some of the information collected by the ‘98 Commemoration Committee in 1998.
It is understood that the Myshall United Irishmen did not take part in the Battle of Carlow but in the Battles of Borris though a Mr. Tom Tracey, Ballylean preserved the tradition that a large number of Myshall men set out for the battle of Carlow (The Myshall men were never backward in a fight) but when they reached the place now called Doyle’s Cross Shangarry they turned around to take a last look at Myshall as they did not expect to return. Their commander was a Captain James Nolan son of Laurence Nolan of Lisgarvin and Anna Wright a quaker from the Kilconnor area who converted to Catholicism. In the 1970’s Laurence and Anna were evicted from Lisgarvin and went to live in Kncokindrane. James wasn’t a scoundrel but the French revolution, American Revolution and perhaps the vicious behaviour of the crown forces all combined to inspire him to take up arms. Captain Nolan died on April 21st 1857 aged 112 and is buried in Drumphea with his in-laws the Barry’s of Knocklonogad. Aided by Barrow Nore Suir Leader 2 Programme his grave was refurbished at a cost of £600 by the Myshall 1798 Commemoration Committee in anniversary of the Rebellion and on Sunday July 5th 1998 after Mass in Drumphea an oration was given by his descendant Brother P.J. Kavanagh Dublin, son of Dolly Nolan Myshall (Nolan’s Shop) and a wreath was laid at this grave. Present were descendants of the Nolan and Barry families. On Cemetery Sunday in Drumphea members of the Myshall Pikemen stood at Captain Nolan’s grave to mark the occasion. The home of Mr. Seamus Lalor, Ballinrush was the home of Captain Nolan’s brother, it was later owned by Mr. Peter Fox whose relatives were very much involved in the rebellion and some of them from Knockbower near the Fighting Cocks who were called Murphy were buried in the Croppy Grave, Carlow. Their father though 70 at the time was stripped and flogged before being released and the scars were seen by Peter Fox’s grandfather.
LOCAL UNITED IRISHMEN
The United Irishmen was a movement which was founded by Ulster Presbyterians in the 1790’s They had tremendous optimism and dreamt of a wonderful democracy encompassing all Irishmen irrespective of class or creed They organised a system of committees something like the G.A.A. of the present day - parochial, baronial, County, Provincial and National. Almost every townsland - certainly every parish had its own branch with delegates attending County or provincial meetings. Patrick Fenelon residing near Myshall was a representative at a Co. Committee Meeting in October 1797 as was Darby Reddy from near Myshall . At a meeting held in Knocklonogad the following rebels were present: Edmond Barry, Knocklonogad, Joseph Barry, his brother, at whose house the meeting was held, Michael Kelly Knocklonogad, Martin Halloran, John Brennan and Daniel Heary Ballinakill, a McDanniel of Garryhill, a Keogh of Aughabeg and Anthony Flynn Raheenwood.
LOCAL MAGISTRATE - ROBERT CORNWALL
Robert Cornwall was a magistrate and was the first member of the Cornwall family in Myshall - a solicitor by profession he was born in Co. Tyrone and practiced law in the offices of his Uncle Sam Faulkner in Dublin. It was there he met a Richard Chappel Whaley who either sold him the estate or leased it to him. Cornwall was the Magistrate and landlord of many townslands in Myshall and also Captain of the Carlow Yeomanry In 1797 Cornwall was influential in gathering the names of 840 heads of households in the area to sign an Oath of Allegiance to his Majesty George the 3rd of England. The full list of names was researched by Myshall Commemorative Committee and remains in the National Archives exactly as it was written over 200 years ago. They are now preserved together with letters written by Robert Cornwall in a booklet brought out by the 1798 Committee entitled “From Myshall Lodge....” (These booklets were a limited edition and are now long out of print).
A profile of Robert Cornwall shows him as a man devoted to the establishment of law and order, feared by United Irishmen in Myshall and adjoining parishes and although new to the area and without the clout of the old established Carlow families, who, in most cases were fond of their tenants, he was favoured by Dublin Castle. Assassination attempts were made on his character and person. As the book “From |Myshall Lodge....” reveals he was in constant contact with Dublin sending every item of information received. He was a founder member of Orange Lodge No. 176 in Co. Carlow where by 1798 ten lodges existed. These attacks didn’t discourage him and he was zealous in his pursuit of United Irishmen and had regular night time excursions to arrest them. He found a copy of the United Oath at Robert Walshe’s of Ullard a public house. It is understood too that his information was often obtained through dubious means. On his front lawn there was a tree referred to as the “Hanging tree” where three croppies were supposedly hung in 1798. Other traditions that relate to the harshness of Cornwall are that a man asked for and received what he thought was a pardon but on presenting this “pardon” in Carlow town it was discovered to be his condemnation and not his pardon!
Another story tells of four Wexford men who were from Fenagh and crossed the Burren between Garryhill and Shean, asked directions at Corrbui Gap from a woman they met who directed them to a particular tree but when they got to that tree they were nabbed. One escaped when they came to Ballinrush lane and the other three were courtmartialled, hanged from a tree outside the wall that is now the old graveyard in Myshall - the skeletons were discovered there some years ago when Myshall Muintir Na Tire under Fr. Burke were cleaning up the area and removing some trees. Their bodies were later properly interred.
Cornwall did not however always use brutal tactics - he knew the Catholic Priests had tremendous influence over the people and on instructions from General Asgill of Kilkenny he visited the Chapels to coerce the people into surrendering their arms and abandon their evil ways. A letter to Lord Castlereagh dated 19th May 1798 collaborates this. However Robert Cornwall will be remembered in this area for two reasons granting the land for the building of the Church of the Holy Cross Myshall which was given prior to 1798 c1776 and the building of the Croppy Road. The Catholic Church of the Holy Cross is, ironically the only living reminder of Cornwall in the parish as it is the only building intact and still used today that stretches across the two centuries linking him with us. The Community Centre incorporates some of the coach house and coach yard and the orchard boundary walls would appear to be untouched also.
As already mentioned United Irishmen were active in the area but there were informers in the camp who gave names to Robert Cornwall. The parish priest at the time, though opposed to the United Irishmen, pleaded with Cornwall to save their lives for he knew what their fate would be- the pitch-cap or the hangman’s rope. Cornwall said they would have to hand in their arms and enroll themselves in a labour corp to build a new road as the old one ran too near his own hall door for his liking - the road has ever since been known as The Croppy Road. There is also the tradition that they had to build a pond - that is not the pond at Tobar Bhríde but was situated just inside the “Grand Gates” further down on the Croppy Road.
The ‘98 Committee had Fr. Bryan Kavanagh’s memorial renovated in the Churchyard, a plaque erected on the road to highlight this reconciliation in 1798, two finger posts indicating the Croppy Road erected in the village and one donated by Mr. Mick Kavanagh, Shangarry at the other entrance to the road which is approximately one mile in length beginning at Dillon’s corner and joining the old road at Michael Kehoe’s gate. The plaque on the road says: “In memory of all who laboured in building this road in 1798”.
Robert Cornwall died on October 16th 1811 and the male line of the Cornwall’s died out with his son but the name was taken up by in-laws the Brady's; the last of the Cornwall-Brady's left Myshall in 1915 and the house was burned down in 1922.
FR. JOHN MURPHY
There is the tradition in the parish that on the 30th June Fr. Murphy the 1798 rebel leader said his last Mass at the Jordan homestead in Coolasnaughta. It is well known that he often shot grouse on Mount Leinster and so would have known the area well. Sarah Jordan Coolasnaughta says that her ancestors also came from Wexford and that perhaps they came from the Boolavogue area and that perhaps that is the reason Fr. Murphy visited the Jordan house. Also his niece was married to Thomas Kennedy Myshall and lived in a house beside where Andy Keogh lives now. There were two more nieces married in Carlow - one to Thomas Brophy, Milltown, ancestor of Fr. Brophy who died in the 1997 and one to James Royce (Rice) Sherwood near Altamont Gardens. When the Kennedy family Myshall died out the homestead was left to the Rice family who in turn sold it to Andy Keogh.
Fleeing from Kilcumney Fr. Murphy assembled his men for an immediate departure to Wexford via the Scullogue Gap but he and his bodyguard Dan Gallagher became separated from the main body in a fog and eventually made their way to Killoughternane where they were given shelter and food by the O’ Connell family. A young O’ Connell girl mended his clothes while he was there - her mother was a Brigid Doran from Drumphea. He had the horse’s shoes turned the wrong way at Tuite's Forge so he and his companion could be less easily traced. He then headed into the parish of Myshall and Drumphea, said Mass in Coolasnaughta on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul and then headed for Ballon.
On hearing that there were troops waiting for them between Ballon and Myshall he switched north west of Ballon and went on to Keppel's of Ballyvale. There they stayed in a stable of Mr. Keppel and after refreshment and rest they went on their way to a farm near Tullow owned by people called O’ Toole where on 2nd July they were discovered, and were court-martialed and hung later in Tullow. The stable belonging to Mr. Keppel was later used to house ailing cattle and other sick animals and many were cured. This was attributed to the blessing Fr. Murphy left on the place when he was taking leave of the family. Mrs. Sam Bailey, Aclare is a member of the Keppel family and in the Offertory Procession at the Mass in honour of Fr. Murphy’s last Mass at Corrbuí Gap on July 5th. 1998 Mrs. Bailey brought up a map of the route taken by Fr. Murphy indicating the Keppel homestead.
The chairman and secretary of the Myshall Commemoration Committee and other members of the community also attended a Prayer for Peace at this stable in July. Avril Keogh representing the house where Fr. Murphy’s niece and Andrew Jordan representing the Jordan family whom Fr. Murphy honoured by saying his last Mass at their house also brought up gifts.
OTHER STORIES OF LOCAL INTEREST
Buried in Drumphea is the father of Mary Little who was originally from Spa Hill and was a protestant; On the 22nd June she went to see the Insurgents march into the Camp Field in Tomduff where she met and fell in love with an Insurgent Thomas Doran of Glenglass Co. Wexford. Thomas fought through the battles of Catlecomer and Kilcumney and returned safely to Wexford but came back to marry Mary Little who turned Catholic and they settled down in Seskinamadra where she lived to be 94 years of age.
An escapee from the Battle of Kilcumney came down from the mountains with a Queen Anne gun but the military were following him. They came through Coolasnaughta, Shean and Clashganny and were closing in on him. He came to a field of wheat at the back of Lucas’ lay down in a trench and hid himself. One man a protestant yeoman named Bradley who lived in Booldurragh where the Kelly family now live came on him and said “don’t stir I won’t shoot you” and the Insurgent was saved.
The book Bunclóidi by Fr. de Bhál preserves the tradition that Corrigans of the Wooden Paling befriended the Insurgents in 1798 and that many took shelter in the furze on Corrigan’s land above the road opposite the house. Michael and Margaret Whelan and Mrs. Smithers now live in the Wooden Paling as the Corrigan family inherited a farm at Evergreen Fenagh and the Wooden Paling was sold. Mr. Bob Corrigan of Ballinacrea Myshall is a relative.
Although five generations removed John O’ Connor Ballinrush has a direct link with a 1798 hero. At that time the O’ Connor family lived in Ballon parish at the side of the road from the Bang Up Cross and according to writers Finn and Farrell O’ Connor was brought before the court martial in Carlow and was stripped and tortured so much for being a United Irishman that his joints were dislocated; he is buried in the Croppy Hole. O’ Connor is supposed to have uttered: “Irishmen die like heroes your country will remember you, shed not the blood of the innocent. Let not the word informer be written on the foreheads of your children. Turning to his tormentors he said “.......you cannot kill the soul, you can never conquer the mind” and his last words were “My country and my God”. In 1842 the O’ Connors were evicted from their home and moved to Carrigslaney and from there to Craanpursheen where a grandniece of the ‘98 hero Ellen O’ Connor verified the story for Fr. Peadar Swaine for his book “Carlow ‘98” John O’ Connor is a great grand nephew of this Ellen O’ Connor.
An ancestor of Fr. Alphie Murphy, formerly Knockbrack named John Murphy was hanged on 26th June 1798 from a tree in the bull ring at Killedmond and is buried in Lorum, the Murphy’s came to Knockbrack from this area. Fr. Alphie concelebrated Mass at Corrabuí Gap on July 5th 1998.
A Mary L. Price Wisconsin U.S.A. was in touch with the ‘98 committee during the year 1998 as her ancestor was a Henry Sheridan born in 1770 in Co. Wexford perhaps in Boolavogue and was one of the contingent who followed Fr. Murphy in their campaign into Carlow following the battle at Vinegar Hill. He eventually settled in Seskinmadra. He married twice, his first wife bore him a son Owen who also married twice to Rose Hoey and then Sarah Nowlan His second wife bore him a son named Nicholas who married Catherine Curran. Some of his descendants were Fenians who had to leave the country having been arrested at Nolan’s Kylemaglush (Grassyard). In 1797 a Henry Sheridan with an address at Ballinree signed the Oath of Allegiance mentioned earlier.