Rebellion of 1798 in Ulster

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXXVI

The next act of the fatal drama was the execution of the State prisoners. The rising in Ulster had been rendered ineffective, happily for the people, by the withdrawal of some of the leaders at the last moment. The command in Antrim was taken by Henry M'Cracken, who was at last captured by the royalists, and executed at Belfast, on the 17th of June.

At Saintfield, in Down, they were commanded by Henry Monroe, who had been a Volunteer, and had some knowledge of military tactics. In an engagement at Ballinahinch, he showed considerable ability in the disposal of his forces, but they were eventually defeated, and he also paid the forfeit of his life. A remnant of the Wexford insurrection was all that remained to be crushed. On the 21st of June, Lord Cornwallis was sent to Ireland, with the command both of the military forces and the civil power. On the 17th of July an amnesty was proclaimed; and the majority of the State prisoners were permitted eventually to leave the country, having purchased their pardon by an account of the plans of the United Irishmen, which were so entirely broken up that their honour was in no way compromised by the disclosure.

Several men, however, were executed, in whose fate the country had, for many reasons, more than ordinary interest. To have pardoned them would have been more humane and better policy. These were the two Sheares, M'Cann, and Mr. William Byrne. Their history will be found in the Lives of the United Irishmen, by Dr. Madden, a work of many volumes, whose contents could not possibly be compressed into the brief space which the limits of this work demands.