Galmoy's Perfidy

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER VI...continued


While lying at Belturbet, this officer was guilty of an act which proves him to have been alike destitute of the feelings of a man and of the honour of a soldier. There was one Brian Maguire, a captain in the Jacobite army, who was detained a prisoner in the Castle of Crom. Galmoy, desiring to have him released, and not scrupling at the means, proposed to Captain Crichton, the governor of the castle,[24] to give Captain Dixie in exchange for him; to which exchange, after consulting Governor Hamilton, Crichton consented. Maguire was accordingly set at liberty and sent to Belturbet. But so soon as Galmoy had him in his hands, instead of releasing Dixie as he promised, he called a court-martial to try him and Charleton, found them guilty of levying war against King James, of which the commission of the Prince of Orange, found in their pockets, was the evidence, and had them sentenced to death. Life was offered them on condition that they would turn to be Roman Catholics and submit to King James; but, to their great honour, both refused to purchase life on such ignoble terms. The sentence of the court-martial was carried out. The two gallant young men were hung from a sign-post in Belturbet, and their heads having been kicked about the streets as footballs by the soldiery, were finally fixed upon the market-house. Maguire himself was so much disgusted by this breach of faith on the part of Galmoy, that, with all the spirit of an Irish soldier, he threw up his commission and refused to serve King James any longer.

No act during the whole war gave a deeper impression of the unmanly wretches that James delighted to honour, than this act of perfidy and blood. It made the Protestants hate the name of Galmoy. It gave them what they considered undoubted proof, that no reliance could be placed on the honour of his officers or on himself. To surrender on the word of such men would be, as they believed, to incur the fate of Dixie. It made them resolve to fight it out to the bitter end. Multitudes of promises ever after, with them weighed for little against that one act of treachery. Moreover, it added cruelty to the conflict. There can be no doubt that many a brave man was afterwards slain without mercy, who would have received quarter had it not been for that cowardly and shameless deed; and bad as it was, even it does not seem to have been the most atrocious that was perpetrated by Galmoy and by his men.[25]

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[24] He was ancestor of the present Earl of Erne.

[25] MacCarmick, p. 32; Hamilton, p. 12; Ireland's Lament., p. 32; True and Impartial Account, p. 7; Harris, p. 215; Narrative of Murders, p. 25.

Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689

Thomas Witherow's thoroughly researched and well-annotated work is a classic account of the Siege of Derry, from the shutting of the gates against the Jacobite forces by the thirteen apprentice boys to the relief of the city by Major-General Kirke's fleet in July 1689. The defence of Enniskillen and the counteroffensive actions of the Enniskilleners is also ably documented.

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Fighters of Derry

William R. Young’s Fighters of Derry has for decades been one of the most overlooked works on the Siege of Derry and as a local genealogical resource. First published in 1932, the book was the product of ten years’ research into identifying participants at the siege which the author undertook when suffering from ill-health in the latter part of his life.

The book is essentially divided into two parts: the first contains 1660 biographical entries relating to the defenders of Derry, tracing, where possible, the family lineage; and the second part includes 352 entries on the Jacobite side. Apart from individual accounts of eminent protagonists in the siege, such as David Cairnes, Rev. George Walker, the Duke of Schomberg, Patrick Sarsfield, etc., there is also background given to many of the most influential families involved in the conflict.

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The Actions of the Enniskillen-men

While the epic siege of Derry is usually accorded its proper place in history, the contemporaneous exploits of the Enniskillen men are often overlooked. This is manifestly unjust because the Enniskilleners demonstrated bravery and heroism in battle at least equal to that of the defenders of Londonderry. Some, of course, rate the actions of the Enniskillen men more highly. As far as Revd Andrew Hamilton, the Rector of Kilskeery and author of A True Relation of the Actions of the Inniskilling Men (1690), was concerned ‘The Derry men saved a city but the Enniskilleners saved a kingdom.’

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