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Annals :: 1700-1800

From the Penal Laws and their execution to the 1798 rebellion and its aftermath .

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For several years a hunt was on all around Shrule area for Fr. Duffy of Ballinrobe who was secretly functioning as Vicar of that Deanery. He was arrested by Robert Miller of Milford and transported to Spain.Lord St. George of Headford castle came to have possession of the friary of Ross but, although a Protestant Peer, he took no action against the friars, now numbering only eight.

24 Oct 1705

Extract of a letter from Sir Richard Cox

“Their youth and gentry are destroyed in the rebellion or gone to France. Those that are left are destitute of horses, arms or money capacity or courage. Five in six of the Irish are poor insignificant slaves, fit for nothing but to hew wood and draw water.”


Shrule castle and land is leased to Ulick Burke of Colmanstown


A grand jury of Galway reported that some “popish priests had landed in the west and settled themselves in several places, including Ross Abbey.” No actions were taken against them.


There was a great frost that winter, in Galway the river froze over from the bridge to the mouth of Lough Corrib. This was followed by famine and pestilence in which multitudes of poor perished.


An epidemic fever rages violently in Galway.


That winter was marked by a great fall of snow, by which a vast number of sheep and black cattle were destroyed.Shrule castle is leased to Robert Waller of Rookwood, Co Roscommon, a year later he sublet it to Thomas Lindsay of Tuam


Stratford Eyre, Governor of Galway, reported that there were thirty Papists to one Protestant in the city. In Shrule it is doubtful if there were a score of protestants living in the parish, and though Protestant churches and rectories were established in the neighbouring parishes, Headford and Kilmaine, there never was one in Shrule.


By that time Kinlough and Moyne churches had ceased to function, Teampall Cholmain was abandoned by the clergy, partly because of it’s position near the road making a target it for inspection from crown agents, also partly because it’s eastern gable had cracked making it dangerous for a congregation.A chapel was erected in Brodullagh south, on the Glencorrib road, it was probably a thatched building without any belfry or tower which might have attracted undesirable attention. Two low arches with a portion of wall are said by some to have been made to decieve the passer-by into believing it was something else than a place of worship, also some large cellars existed underneath.


The passing of Ross Abbey.Lord St. George of Headford won a law suit against an O’Flaherty of Iar-Connacht and, bent on revenge, O’Flaherty swore information that his lordship was sheltering monks on his properties, contributing to their upkeep.

The authorities decided to investigate the matter fully and a commission was sent with orders to imprison the friars and to report on the misconduct of St. George.The news of the impending visit was brought secretly to his Lord ship, who in turn warned the friars. The Abbey was then evacuated and the neighbouring people, including many from Shrule parish, began to give the place the appearance of a factory, whitewashing the walls and ceilling, so as to hide the frescoes, installing spinning wheels and looms.When the commission arrived the place looked as if it was housing a great woollen industry, so they left happy to report that all was well in Headford.

The Franciscan then moved to an Island about a mile downstream on the river and far from the beaten track, because of the various drainage schemes this place is no longer an island. There they constructed some small cabins of wood and stones, and they stayed for thirty-six years, supported by the locals with food, fuel and clothing brought to them over a small wooden drawbridge. During that time the friars still said mass on Sundays in the Abbey, which was fast falling into disrepair.


The records of a diocesan assembly held by Archbishop Mark Skerret of Tuam shows that the assembled clergy lamented that various parishes were so poor they could not support a priest or the Archbishop. Amalgamation of parishes was a solution proposed, another one was an annual charge of two shillings for every married couple, marriage offering were to be 2s.6p. and baptism 1s.6d.. However many catholics were unable to pay even these small charges.

Because of the reorganisation of parishes a dispute arose between Shrule and Kilmaine over some unspecified townland on which both parishes laid claim. Neither priest nor laity could solve the problem so the matter was refered to Archbishop Skerret then secretly residing near Ballinduff castle. The Archbishop found in favour of Kilmaine and rejected Shrule’s claim.The townland in question may be either Ballisnahiney, now part of Kilmaine parish but completely surrounded by Shrule, or Brackloon which has a part in Shrule and the remainder in Kilmaine.


Edmund Kirwan of Dalgan was a member of the common concil of Galway.


On the death of Thomas Lindsay, his executors, Croasdaile Miller of Milford and Anthony Ormsby of Ballinamona got a lease for the castle and land of Shrule from Waller for the duration of his life. The land was stated to measure 441 acres. Shortly after this the Kirwans of Dalgan Park purchased the property.

18 August 1783

Edmund Kirwan, Esq., of Dalgan, presented himself for the election of two Knights of the shire, to represent the county of Galway to the parliament. There were three other candidates to fill the two posts and after a 52 day contest E. Kirwan failed to be elected.


The condition of the friars on Friars Island, whose cabins were fast becoming unfit for human habitation, came to the attention of Henry Lynch of Ballycurran, who offered them a lease of sixteen acres in Kilroe. The Franciscan gladly accepted and soon, with the help of the local people, had a small friary built there.

13 April 1795

An ad in the paper

“Edmund Kirwan in the estate of Dalgin and Ballicushion, about 500 full grown ash trees, fit for coopers and turners, for sale.The receiver by Ed. Kirwan of Dalgin.”


The year of the French, rebellion of the United Irishmen.The position of Connaught before 1798 was somewhat different than the rest of the country, racial hatred and religious prejudice were less apparent and the people were not as oppressed as they were in the other provinces.In consequence the position of the United Irishmen was not as strong in our area and they did not progress much farther than administering oaths to the people.The oath administered was:

“I … do voluntary declare, that I will persevere in endeavouring to form a brotherhood of affection among Irishmen of every religious persuasion, and that Iwill also persevere in my endeavour to obtain an equal, full and adequate representation of all the people of Ireland.

I do futher declare that neither hopes, fears, rewards or punishments shall ever induce me directly or indirectly to inform on or to give evidence against any member or members of this or similar societies for any act or expression of theirs done or made collectively or individually in or out of this society in pursuance of the spirit of this obligation.”

As late as August 1798, when the French had landed, people in Hollymont were inquiring how to make pikes, and between Monivea and Tuam they were idling in ditches along the roads, waiting for news. As the English were routed out of Castlebar and fled towards Galway in what was to be known as the races of Castlebar, a contingent of soldiers from Galway was assembled and send north to come to their help. Once in Shrule they decided to stay south of the river and to encamp near Abbeytown ( highest point between Shrule and Headford), to wait for the Mayo troops and then give battle to the pursuing Irish and French.

Thankfully the red coats turned at Hollymount toward Tuam, so sparing Shrule a bloody battle maybe followed by a gory aftermath.Following the declaration of the republic of Connaught, the recruitment of United Irishmen became more successfull and a campaign of intimidation toward loyalists was soon started, mainly houghing and maiming of sheep and cattle, destruction of property and forcibly taking goods. At no stage was any life taken.

After the rebellion, the majority of the loyalists preferred to show leniency, an attitude not dictated by humanitarian feeling, but in the belief that it was the best way to bring back peace and stability on their estates. However a small minority sought re- venge and achieved it by means of court martial and summary execution.

A letter from some members of that minority:

“Sir, we the undersigned proprietor and freeholder of the County of Mayo do give it to you as our opinion that under the existing circumstances of the country public justice can not be obtained of persons charged with treason or rebellion by the mode of trial by jury, and we conceive it would be injurious to the arrengements necessary for trying persons with those offences to bring them up to civil tribunal, we are sir your humble servants ”

Thos Ormsby , G. Jackson Tyrawly , John Ormsby , Denis Brown , W, Orme , Geoge Miller , Thos. Palmer , Andw. Courtney .

In accordance a court martial was set in Galway, to which people from Shrule were sent, accused of houghing cattle on the properties of Widow Golding of Shrule, Thomas Blake and Timothy Sheridan and for taking of unlawfull oaths. Here is another letter giving much informations on the proceadings.

MEMORIAL Record or chronicle, informal diplomatic paper, statement of fact as basis of petition…

MEMORIALIST Signatory of memorial.

To his Exellency Charles Marquis Corwallis Lord Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland

the Memorial of George Symmers of Montjoy Square in the city of Dublin. Gent.

“ That previous to the month of February 1799 houghing of cattle swearing of united Irishmen and many other treasonable practices made such considerable progres in the county of Galway that it became expedient to put that district under military law, and to open a martial court in the tower of Galway for the trial of per- sons charged with those crimes.That such martial court commenced its sitting on the 21st of the said month of February when your memorialist was called on by General Meyriek who commanded that district, as a fit person to get as agent on the part of the crown in (?) on prosecutions against such persons as should be apprehended on the aforesaid charges and your memorialist in pursuance of such appointment took upon him the management of said prosecutions, and for the greatest part of the time that such martial court sat Memorialist was unassisted by counsil.

That during the sitting of said martial court and previous the reto persons charged with treasonable offences murder and houghing to the number of 400 were apprehended and lodged in a place of confinement in the tower of Galway to abide their trial before said martial court.That in order to bring such offenders to justice your Memorialist found it neccesary to visit, and under the (?) of General Meyrick did at various times visit different and distinct part of the county of Galway and obtain information and procure evidence to substantiate the charges brought against those who were in custody and did arrest several persons against whom information had been lodged.That your Memorialist paid the expenses and supported almost the whole of the witnesses who appeared on the part of the crown and also expended considerable sums of money in travelling in search of delinquents and witnesses.

That from Memorialist local knowledge of said County,he caused Francis Kirwan,Esq., Lieutenant in the loyal, Anaghdown Yeomanry, who it appeared was the principal instigator of rebellion and other acts of barbarism which were commited in that part of the county of Galway which was most disturbed, to be apprehended and brought to justice, the beneficial (?) of which your Memorialist shows is evident from this, and since the execution of said Kirwan no further outrages have been commited and for your Memorialist zeal and activity in bringing said Kirwan and several other offenders to punishment your Memorialist refers to General Meyrick,the magistrate of said county of Galway and to the entire of the gents of that county.

That during the rendering of said Kirwan trials (a period of three weeks) your Memorialist supported fifteen persons who were considered as material witnesses to substantiate the several charges brought against said Kirwan.That of the 400 persons apprehended for acts of treason and rebellion one hundred and thirty were tried before said martial court, 30 of whom were sentenced to be hung, upwards of 50 to be transported or serve abroad for life and about 30 either whipped or put under the rule of bail, and the remainder being found upon examination of the witnesses who had sworn information against them that their crimes were of a lighter nature were by the direction of General Meyrick suffered to be enlarged on giving security for future allegiance and good conduct.That in consequence of such determination of General Meyrick and under his direction Memorialist had to prepare bail bonds to the above effort and to see such (?) acknowledged before magistrates Notwithstanding that your Memorialist had before then made out the charge and prepared the evidences and had every matter ready for the trial of said persons.

That independant to those sentenced by the court there were several others who rather than abide trial before said court consented to serve his Majesty abroad for life (?) whom Memorialist had equal trouble as with those who had been sentenced Memorialist having everything ready for their trials.That after the said court martial had been dissolved informations were made against numbers of persons for houghing and treasonable practices and General Meyrick not wishing to resume said court martial yet desirous to have those against whom such informations had been made restrained in some manners directed Memorialist to go into the county arrest some of the leaders and obliged those guilty to enter into security for their futur allegiance.

That Memorialist accordingly went into different parts of the county of Galway and obliged numbers of persons who acknoledged themselves (?) houghers and to have taken the united Irishmen oath to deliver up their arms of various descriptions to Memorialist and to enter (?) with true sureties in a certain sum of money for future allegiance and good conduct.That prior to the opening of the martial court your Memorialist was in good practice as an attorney in the city of Dublin and by reason of his having been so (?) agent on the part of the crown was necessarily obliged to absent himself from the city of Dublin for the month of February 1799 to the month of November last all which same Memorialist was actively concerned on the part of the crown by which means he has been a considerable sufferer in his profession.

That your Memorialist has never been reimbursed one shilling on his expenses here and before stated, nor has your memorialist recured any sort of compensation for his labour trouble and loss of time save only 100 pounds advanced by Brig. Meyrick to Memorialist.Your Memorialist therefore humbly prays that your Exellency will be pleased to order the matter of your Memorialist said memorial to be referred to General Meyrick that the truth thereof may be certified by him to your Excellency and that your Excellency will be pleased to order such compensation to be made to your Memorialist for his disbursements services labour and time aforesaid as to your Exellency shall (sum meet ?).”

G. Symmers

Of the Shrule people arrested and tried during that period we find:

  • Pat Tedders, Shrewell, houghing and taking of unlawful oaths, tried 4/3/99, hanged 13/3/99.
  • James Bohan, Shrewell, Houghing and taking of unlawful oaths, tried 4/3/99, sentenced to hang, commuted to serve abroad for life, send to New Geneva on 8/5/99
  • Edmund Naighton, Shrewell, houghing + unlawful oaths, tried 4/3/99, sentenced to find security to be of the peace for 7 years,discharged security being given.
  • Owen Conmy, Shrewell, as above
  • Patrick Connell, Shrewell, as above
  • Thomas Burke, charged as above, acquitted, discharged.
  • James Keane, Boula, robbery and intent to hough and maim cattle, tried 30/4/99, hanged 3/5/99
  • Simon Manion, Boula, as above, hanged 3/5/99

It was also sworn in the evidence that the man who was administering the oaths of secrecy in our area was named Hughes but he was never brought to trial.Some avoided a severe sentence by volunteering to serve abroad for life, the service was in the army of the King of Prussia.

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