Lundy's Aid and Counsel to Enniskillen

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER VI...continued


If Enniskillen was able to hold its ground against King James, it did not owe much to the aid and counsel of Lundy. On the 25th of March the news came that Captain James Hamilton, as already stated, had arrived at Derry with a large supply of arms and ammunition. A message was sent off immediately to procure a portion of the supply for the use of the garrison of Enniskillen; but all that Lundy would consent to give was five barrels of powder and sixty old musket-barrels, without stock or lock, which were thrown as lumber into the magazine of Derry. These musket-barrels the Enniskillen people fixed up in a rude but serviceable fashion, and this was their only supply of arms and ammunition, except what they took from the enemy, up to the time that Major-General Kirke relieved them.

The evil counsel which had proved so fatal to Dungannon and Sligo, was also given to them, but not with the same results. Lundy invited the Enniskilleners to desert their town and to retreat to Derry. He sent them a copy of the resolution of the Council of War, inviting all the forces to meet at Clady on the 15th of April to help him to maintain the fords of the Finn. He urged them to give up an untenable post and come to Derry, for no other object, as events proved, than to tell them, when there, that Derry was untenable too. Fortunately, they acted on their own judgment rather than on his. Professional soldiers would have been bound to obey their superior officer, but men who had armed purely in defence of their life and property did not consider themselves under obligation to submit to the orders of Colonel Lundy any farther than they thought right. They determined to keep by their own town, and felt strengthened in their determination, when afterwards they became aware of the cruel deception which he practised on Lord Kingston and the garrison of Sligo. Even that, however, turned out for the good of Enniskillen. Before sailing for England, his lordship sent thither those of his forces who were not required to occupy Ballyshannon and Donegal. The two troops of horse and the six companies of foot thus acquired, added very much to the strength of the garrison of Enniskillen. Their resolution to stay and to defend their own town was also confirmed by the receipt of the following letter, sent by some unknown writer from Derry, who seems to have had a tolerably correct notion of the posture of affairs. It was addressed to Lieutenant MacCarmick:—

"DEAR SIR,—We know that there are some expresses gone from hence last night and this day that give an account of the ill success that attends our forces, and that it is to be feared it will be hard for any to escape from Coleraine hither. It is likewise believed by most that advice is sent to Enniskillen to desert that place and retire to Derry, which will tend to the ruin of all the Protestant interest in Ulster, and for aught we know, in the whole kingdom. There are many well-wishers to your town and interest that believe it were better to stay there than to retire. It is a nice point to advise a friend therein. What is to be done, must be with expedition, either to come away immediately, or resolve to defend that place. Take speedy counsel, and God of His infinite mercy direct you, that you may escape the cruelty of your enemies. This place will be so thronged that the walls will not contain the people.—Sir, I am yours."

The Enniskillen men wisely resolved to stay by their own town, and bound themselves, Governor, officers, and men, to discharge their duties to each other, and to defend the Protestant religion and interest with their life and fortune.[26]

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[26] MacCarmick's Further Account, pp. 33-38. Hamilton's Account, pp. 13-17, For a copy of oath taken by the private men, see App. No. 17.

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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