Siege of Athlone

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

« start... Chapter XXXIII. ...continued

« Duke of Berwick | Contents | Index | Battle of Aughrim »

Hostilities commenced on 7th June, with the siege of Ballymore Castle, in Westmeath. The Governor surrendered, and Athlone was next attacked. This town is situated on the river Shannon. Its position must be thoroughly understood, to comprehend the heroic bravery with which it was defended. It will be remembered that Athlone was one of the towns which the English of the Pale had fortified at the very commencement of their invasion of Ireland. That portion of the city which lay on the Leinster or Pale side of the river, had never been strongly fortified, and a breach was made at once in the wall. Ginkell assaulted it with 4,000 men, and the defenders at once withdrew to the other side; but they held the bridge with heroic bravery, until they had broken down two of the arches, and placed the broad and rapid Shannon between themselves and their enemies.

St. Ruth had arrived in the meantime, and posted his army, amounting to about 15,000 horse and foot, at the Irish side of the river. The English had now raised the works so high on their side, that they were able to keep up an incessant fire upon the town. According to their own historian, Story, they threw in 12,000 cannon balls and 600 bombs, and the siege cost them " nigh fifty tons of powder." The walls opposite to the batteries were soon broken down, and the town itself reduced to ruins.

The besiegers next attempted to cross in a bridge of boats, but the defenders turned their few field-pieces on them. They then tried to mend the broken bridge; huge beams were flung across, and they had every hope of success. But they knew not yet what Irish valour could dare. Eight or ten devoted men dashed into the water, and tore down the planks, under a galling fire; and, as they fell dead or dying into the river, others rushed to take the places of their fallen comrades, and to complete the work.

St. Ruth now ordered preparations to be made for an assault, and desired the ramparts on the Connaught side of the town to be levelled, that a whole battalion might enter abreast to relieve the garrison when it was assailed. But the Governor, D'Usson, opposed the plan, and neglected the order. All was now confusion in the camp. There never had been any real head to the royalist party in Ireland; and to insure victory in battle, or success in any important enterprise where multitudes are concerned, it is absolutely essential that all should act with union of purpose. Such union, where there are many men, and, consequently, many minds, can only be attained by the most absolute submission to one leader; and this leader, to obtain submission, should be either a lawfully constituted authority, or, in cases of emergency, one of those masterspirits to whom men bow with unquestioning submission, because of the majesty of intellect within them. There were brave men and true men in that camp at Athlone, but there was not one who possessed these essential requisites.

« Duke of Berwick | Contents | Index | Battle of Aughrim »

FEATURED eBOOKS

Truelove's Journal: A Bookshop Novella

"Beautiful, different and touching. Short, sweet and lovely. Made me cry. You sense that this is a true story veiled in the guise of fiction as are all the best stories."

Although ostensibly set in England, this story was penned by an Irish bookseller under the pseudonym of Ralph St John Featherstonehaugh.

Truelove's Journal (amazon.com) ►

Truelove's Journal (amazon.co.uk) ►

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

Annals of the Famine in Ireland, by Asenath Nicholson, still has the power to shock and sadden even though the events described are ever-receding further into the past. When you read, for example, of the poor widowed mother who was caught trying to salvage a few potatoes from her landlord's field, and what the magistrate discovered in the pot in her cabin, you cannot help but be appalled and distressed.

The ebook is available for download in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (iBooks, etc.) and .pdf formats. For further information on the book and author see details ».

Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger

Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger

This book, the prequel to Annals of the Famine in Ireland cannot be recommended highly enough to those interested in Irish social history. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, travelled from her native America to assess the condition of the poor in Ireland during the mid 1840s. Refusing the luxury of hotels and first class travel, she stayed at a variety of lodging-houses, and even in the crude cabins of the very poorest. Not to be missed!

The ebook is available for download in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (iBooks, etc.) and .pdf formats. For further information on the book and author see details ».

The Scotch-Irish in America

The Scotch-Irish in America

Henry Ford Jones' book, first published in 1915 by Princeton University, is a classic in its field. It covers the history of the Scotch-Irish from the first settlement in Ulster to the American Revolutionary period and the foundation of the country.

The ebook is available for download in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (iBooks, etc.) and .pdf formats. For further information on the book and author see details ».

MAILING LIST

letterJoin our mailing list to receive updates on new content on Library, our latest ebooks, and more.

You won't be inundated with emails! — we'll just keep you posted periodically — about once a monthish — on what's happening with the library.