Enniskilleners Raid Cavan and Meath

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER VI...continued


Towards the end of May, the Enniskilleners organized another expedition for the purpose of checking the Jacobites, who had planted garrisons at Redhill and Ballinacarrig, in County Cavan. Colonel Lloyd set out with 1500 foot and horse, and at Crom he was joined by all that could be spared from that little garrison. The report of their advance travelled before them, and the fears of the country people magnified the numbers of the party from hundreds to thousands. At Wattle-bridge they came in sight of the enemy. The bridge was broken down; but when Lloyd and his men took the ford, the Jacobites did not dispute the passage, and immediately retired. As they retreated they left a garrison in Redhill House, the seat of Francis White, Esq., who himself was then in England; but when the Enniskillen men approached, the garrison surrendered at the first summons, so that nothing was taken from them but their arms. Next morning they invested Ballinacarrig Castle. The garrison there also surrendered, on condition that they and the prisoners taken at Redhill should both be set at liberty. The terms were accepted, and the result was that the castle, with its arms and ammunition, and a rich store of provisions, fell into their hands, without their being obliged to strike a blow. Having gutted the castle, they undermined the wall, set the building on fire, and levelled it to the ground; not thinking it wise to plant a new garrison at so great a distance from their centre, nor to spare a place of so great strength, in the heart of the enemy's country. Having scoured the country on to Kells in County Meath, within thirty miles of Dublin, and having struck terror to the Metropolis itself, where their strength was believed to be much greater than it really was, they returned to Enniskillen without the loss of a single man, bringing back with them about 3000 cows and oxen, 2000 sheep, and 500 horses, laden with meal, wheat, and malt. It was the testimony of one of their enemies, that "they were the fairest enemy that ever came into a country, not injuring any person that lived peaceably, leaving a troop of horse in the town of Cavan, until all the army were marched away, to see that no injury might be done to the common people."[30]

Why not attack the Capital? A bold attack on Dublin, when most of the army were engaged at Derry, might have been successful; but for the Enniskilleners to attempt it then would have been a fatal mistake, seeing that they had no large guns, that their supply of any kind of arms and ammunition was very scanty, and that, at the very time when they were absent on this raid, Sarsfield, at the head of several thousand men, was lying in the deer park of Sir William Gore, near Manorhamilton, about sixteen or seventeen miles from Enniskillen. Their raid was not, however, without results. General Rosen was instantly despatched to the North at the head of a force designed originally for an attack on Enniskillen, but which was diverted towards Derry in consequence of the news reaching Dublin that Kirke with his fleet had appeared in Lough Foyle, and that the garrison of Derry had defeated Hamilton in the battle at the Windmill Hill.[31]

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[30] A True Account, p. 9; Hamilton, pp. 21, 22; MacCarmick, pp. 42-43.

[31] Avaux to Louis, June 20/10th (?), 1689.

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.