“When our letters came away, the report in Dublin was…that the country round Malahide was also in possession of the rebels.”1
ardly a locality in Ireland was unaffected by the events of the 1798 rising and Malahide is no exception.
The rebellion began on May 23 and a newspaper report from May 30, 1798 states that “…the country round Malahide was in possession of the rebels, and a company of Fermanagh militia quartered* in the town, had sent an express to the capital for reinforcements to come to their assistance”.1
Who were these rebels?
In the summer of 1798, as British forces continued to systematically put down the rebellion, Lord Cornwallis, the Commander-in-Chief of the crown forces in Ireland, issued a proclamation offering amnesty to rebels who surrendered their arms and took an oath to the crown. The amnesty didn’t, however, extend to named leaders or those accused of capital crimes such as murder.2
A book by Peadar Bates 1798 Rebellion in Fingal – the preparation, outbreak, and aftermath3 reveals that scores of men from Yellow Walls and the wider Malahide area, having taken part in the rebellion, availed of the amnesty.
The names of these men are known thanks to a list compiled at the time of over 1000 men in the Barony of Coolock who were granted protections.4
On this list are over 40 men who residence was listed as Yellow Walls.
The names are:
Also listed in Bates’ book is the total number of the weapons handed over in the amnesty:
Number and Kind of Guns Delivered by Above Persons on receiving Protections: 1 Swivel Gun, 56 Musquets, 14 Blunderbusses, 105 Fowling Pieces, 36 Pistols, 19 Bayonets, 23 Swords, 477 Pikes and Pike Heads and 10 Scythes mounted.
Other events of the 1798 rebellion connected to Yellow Walls include the hanging of Henry Downes at the barracks that once stood on Barrack Hill, Old Yellow Walls road. The barracks also housed over 200 men from the Durham Light Infantry for a year from 1797-1798.5
In the years leading up to the rebellion, a militant secret catholic society known as The Defenders was active in certain parts of Ireland including Malahide. The society originated in Ulster in the 1780s and spread to other parts of Ireland. It was founded to protect Catholics from attacks by Protestant “peep o’ day” boys.6
The Defenders figured prominently in events leading up to the 1798 rebellion. One such event occurred in Malahide in 1793 when members of The Defenders attacked Malahide castle. A newspaper report7 from January 12 of that year describes how:
It was this day reported that an attack was made on the Castle of Malahide, by several of the Defenders, and that they were repulsed with loss. In the vicinity of Swords, similar outrages are committing [sic] with impunity.
The Defenders were allied with the United Irishmen who were behind the organisation and execution of the 1798 rebellion. It’s possible then that some of the men from Yellow Walls who took part in the rebellion may have been members of the Defenders.
*Probably in the barracks that stood at Barrack Bridge.
†As transcribed from the source text – the surname may actually be “Farrell” but was transcribed incorrectly in the original record.
1. Chester Chronicle, June 01, 1798.
2. Beegan, M. An Impartial History of the Irish Rebellion, in the Year 1798, Volume 2. M. Beegan, 1820.
3. Bates, P. 1798 Rebellion in Fingal: Preparation, Outbreak, and Aftermath. P. Bates, 1998.
4. Journals of the House of Commons of the Kingdom of Ireland, Vol. XVII. An account of the several Persons to whom the Magistrates of the Barony of Coolock have granted Protection and received into his Majesty’s Peace since the 23rd Day of May 1798, with the Names and Places of Abode of each Person, and the Kind and Number of Arms delivered by such persons on receiving such Protection (originally published 1798).
5. Vane, WL. Durham Light Infantry: The United Red and White Rose. Andrews UK Limited, 2012.
6. Samuel Clark, James S. Donnelly. Irish Peasants: Violence & Political Unrest, 1780-1914. Manchester University Press, 1983.
7. Saunders Newsletter, 12 January, 1793.