Page images
PDF
EPUB

I.

1711

If the settlers or their servants ventured out, they CHAP. found their houses burning when they returned. At daybreak the hill sides were seen strewn with carcases of oxen and sheep lying dead in hundreds or in thousands. The bands by whom the slaughter was accomplished seemed to have started from the earth. Nothing could be traced to the local peasantry. They professed mere ignorance, amazement, and terror. It was found only that, wherever a butchery had taken place, they were gathered in crowds on the morning following to buy the bodies, which the owners glad to dispose of at any price which they could get. The warning letters were signed · Evan ;' but who Evan was none could guess, for he was omnipresent in four counties. Here and there suspected persons were arrested, but no evidence could be found against them. The story which they generally told was, that the gangs at work were · King James's old soldiers,' and that the object was to harass Connaught 'till an army could arrive which they expected from France.' Beyond question it was the work of Catholics, for Protestants were the only sufferers. But whether it was really a prelude to a rebellion, whether it was an agrarian attack on the grazing system, or whether it was revenge for the passing of the penal laws, no certain conclusion could be arrived at. The accounts of the attitude of the priests were contradictory. There was no doubt that they knew the perpetrators, and as little that they would tell nothing. Sir William Caulfield, who hated them, confessed that he could find no proof of their guilt. They would have preferred, naturally enough, he said, to see people on the land instead of stock ; but in words, so far as he could hear, they

BOOK
III.

1711

had condemned the barbarous method by which the ground was being cleared.' Priests at Tuam, on the other hand, had been heard to pray for Evan's good success. An Augustinian friar, at Kilmore, had desired all his congregation to join with him in imploring a blessing on Evan's head. Another father had read one of Evan's proclamations in the pulpit, and preached a sermon in his praise as the poor

man's friend. The High Sheriff of Galway arrested Dr. Maddin, the priest of Loughrea, as one of the ringleaders. The mob rose in fury, surrounded the house where the priest was confined, and would have torn the sheriff in pieces but for the appearance of a troop of dragoons.

The original mystery was never completely unravelled. The English landowners were few and widely scattered. The rising was so sudden, the surprise so complete, and the destruction so universal, that they were unable to combine or collect at any one point. sufficient force to attack the houghing parties at their work. They had to lie still behind barricaded doors, and congratulate themselves that the attack this time was on their property and not upon their lives.

On one occasion only a gang was fallen in with, which showed that the work was directed by men of intelligence and education.

At the end of November, 1711, a soldier belonging to the garrison, who was shooting near Galway, was stopped by a number of men with blackened faces, who took his gun from him. He observed that they all spoke English. The leader wore several heavy

1 George Fowler to the Archbishop of Tuam, March 3, 1712.' YSS. Dublin.

CHAP.

I.

1711

gold rings. He produced from his pocket a handsome chased flask and drank some wine from it. He had a bag full of Spanish coin, a handful of which he offered his prisoner, promising that if he would join the band he would make a gentleman of him. Apparently he was one of the better born Rapparees, with the courtesies of his profession; for when the soldier declined his offers, he gave him back his gun, saying that he had more arms already than he needed, and bidding him go tell the Governor of Galway that, if the garrison meddled with him, he would burn the town to the gates, hough the soldiers as he had done the cattle, and carry the officers' heads away on pikes.'

The vast area of country which was wasted proves that the devastation was the work of

hands. Very few of the perpetrators were detected, and still fewer were punished. One or two were executed. Others, though caught red-handed, were acquitted by the juries. Throughout Connaught the Irish Catholic gentry combined to prevent any effective prosecution or discovery; and, if innocent themselves, they proved that their sympathies were entirely on the side of those whom they knew to be guilty. To stop the destruction, and, if possible, unravel the mystery, the Government at length offered a free pardon to all who would confess and give securities for their future good behaviour. The Houghers' object was substantially accomplished. Terror had done its work. Connaught was recovered to the Irish for half a century, for no stock breeders would risk their capital for mere industrial use in a country where it could be thus swept away with impunity, and those who remained fell, for protection, into Irish habits, and reared their sheep for the smuggling wool

many

trade, which the native ordinances were pleased to permit. Sixteen young gentlemen in Galway then gave in their names, having nothing to fear, and nothing more to lose. The most substantial and most respected of the Irish proprietors of the West became bail for them. One of a similar party in Clare, who surrendered under the proclamation, volunteered a detailed account of the proceedings. Connor O’Loghlin, son of Rory O'Loghlin, a Catholic gentleman of good birth and station, said that his cousin, Captain Charles O’Loghlin, after making him take an oath of secresy, invited him to join 'in houghing the cattle of the merchants and new comers that were engrossing the lands. He, his cousin, and seven or eight companions, made up the gang. They did not confine themselves to the settlers, for the first object of their attentions was one of the purest Milesians in Ireland, Sir Donogh O'Brien, who was a Protestant. Sir Donogh, on second thoughts, they concluded not to meddle with. He was capable of "summoning all the priests in the country,' demanding an account from them of the doings of their parishioners, and after

BOOK
III.

1711

1 List of persons that rendered Richard Kearigane themselves as Houghers in the Richard Pearle county of Galway, pursuant to the Herbert O'Flaherty proclamation, and entered into

Francis Murphy
recognizances under John Stanton,

John Armstrong
Esq.:-

Henry Joyce
Martin MacDonogh, of Ballydaly All these persons were gentlemen,
Darby O'Flaherty

and entered into recognizancesBryan King

1001. each for themselves, and their James Naghten

securities 501. each. Denis Fahy

Among the gentlemen who beJohn McMoyle Burke

came bail for them I find the names James Caheron

of Edmund McDonogh, Bryan FlaDaniel Grany

herty, Godfrey Daly, Robert Blake, Nicholas Supple

and Edmund Burke. MSS. DubBryan Morris

lin Castle.

CHAP

I.

1711

wards '

of taking account with such. Sir Walter Blake, another Irish conformist, was a safer victim. They killed three hundred ‘ great rams and wethers' on Sir Walter Blake's estate; afterwards, armed with guns and swords, they stole away at night by bridlepaths into the Galway mountains, took up

their

quarters at a friend's house, where they were handsomely entertained; and, after a day or two of feasting and hard drinking, went to their work again, and cleared the adjoining farms. The careless recklessness of the party showed how needless was disguise, how completely they felt themselves secure in the sympathy of the county.

For the present the work was effectually done. No cattle-farmer remained in the West save those who consented to submit to the laws and customs of Connaught. The lesson was repeated when necessary. Forty years later Lord St. George attempted to plant a part of Connemara with Protestant families, building them decent houses, barns, stalls, and cattle-sheds. No Catholic tenants appear to have been removed to make way for them; but the mere presence of these heretical strangers was intolerable. The Houghers rose, levelled houses and outbuildings, swearing that no Protestant should settle in the district. In this instance the guiding hand could be traced with certainty. "The priests,' wrote a gentleman on the spot, “told the people they were contending for the Holy Catholic religion.” 1 Information

Connor O'Loghlin, Lieutenant Markahan, O'Loghlin, sworn before Robert Ensign Connor Hogan, William Miller, Justice of the Peace, 1713.' Kempsey, Bryan Hogan, &c.---were MSS. Dublin Castle.

Papists to his certain knowledge.' 2 The deposition ends with the 3 'Anthony Miles to the Earl of statement of young O’Loghlin, that Kildare, July 30, 1757. Church all the aforesaid persons-Captain MSS. Dublin Castle.

of

« PreviousContinue »