To mark the 150th anniversary of the Fenian Rising and the Battle of Tallaght, South Dublin Libraries presents a talk by local historian Seán Bagnall on ‘The Battle of Tallaght’.
On the morning of March 5th 1867 thousands of men gathered on Tallaght Hill armed and ready for a fight.
They were all Fenians, members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and this was the day they, and their fellow comrades around Dublin, were going to attempt to overthrow British rule and establish an Irish Republic.
Some of them were well armed, others were hopelessly under equipped for the ensuing fight.
The old police barracks on the main street, located where Fanagans funeral home now is, was attacked by a small and separate contingent in the skirmish that become known as the Battle of Tallaght
The police had been warned in advance and easily repelled the attackers, killing three of them in the process. A report from the Freemans Journal on 7th March 1867 described the Fenians attack.
“They advanced in military array, and kept step with a precision that almost deceived the constabulary into the belief that they were regular soldiers.
“The constabulary were drawn up across the road a few yards from the barrack.
“Their orders were to fire at once when the word of command was given; and they knelt on one knee, ready to obey.
“Sub-Inspector Burke challenged the advancing party, estimated to have numbered about 1,000.
“When they arrived within 20 or 30 yards of the constabulary, he called on them to surrender in the name of the Queen, and threatened to fire on them if they did not lay down their arms.
“A person who appeared to be in command, then cried out, “Here’s at it; now, boys, now.”
“The words were followed by a volley from the Fenians.
“Not a shot took effect, probably from the kneeling posture of the police. There were about 60 or 80 shots fired. The constabulary promptly returned the fire, wounding several, and, as it afterwards appeared, one mortally.
“The Fenians immediately turned and fled, throwing away their arms, and leaving two wounded men on the ground.
“The police picked up twelve stands of arms, consisting of rifles, bayonets, pikes, and daggers, and plenty of ammunition, which lay scattered about.”
The large gathering on Tallaght Hill were left leaderless and the much hoped for rising never materialised.
William Domville Handcock, a Tallaght landowner and Magistrate for County Dublin, in his book “The History and Antiquities of Tallaght” published in 1899, described the scenes in the aftermath of the aborted rising.
“At my uncle’s place at Kiltalown, the family were in a great fright.
“They saw numbers of Fenians walking about the lawn all night, and they expected to be attacked every moment.
“All had disappeared by morning; but in the plantations near the house nearly a cart-load of rifles and ammunition was found.
“Next day we got a fine pike-head and a neat little dagger, as souvenirs of the latest, and, as I hope, the last, rebellion in Ireland.”
“The Battle of Tallaght 150” takes place in the County Library on Thursday 2 March 2017 19:00 – 20:30