News from Kirke's Fleet

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER VI...continued

NEWS FROM THE FLEET.—Wednesday, 3rd July,

On the 3rd of July, a letter was received at Enniskillen from Mr. Brown, chaplain of the Bonadventure frigate lying at Killybegs, stating that Major-General Kirke, then in Lough Swilly, had sent round the Bonadventure to inquire into the condition of Enniskillen, and to supply the garrison so far as it might be in his power. This news, as might be expected, was received with great joy. In the town that night bonfires were burned, volleys fired, and healths drunk to King William and Queen Mary. Colonel Lloyd himself went down to the coast to give Captain Hobson a true account of how matters stood, and, after a kindly reception by the English officer, returned with a promise of thirty barrels of powder, and with the assurance that they would soon receive from England much more effectual assistance. The powder was peculiarly acceptable: nothing else was so scarce at Enniskillen, and the action of the garrison was in every way hampered by the want of it. It was also agreed that Mr. John Rider and Rev. Andrew Hamilton, Rector of Kilskerry, should be sent to Kirke, asking for commissions to be given to their leaders, for some experienced English officer to take the command of the Enniskillen troops, and for a farther supply of arms and ammunition. This deputation went aboard on the 8th of July, and on the 12th joined Kirke, then lying inactive in Lough Swilly.[38]

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[38] Hamilton, p. 28; MacCarmick, p. 50.

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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