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The Black Mondays

In his History of Bandon 1862, Bennett tells us.. “and the neighbouring peasantry still stoutly affirm, that, ever since, a black cloud hangs over Bandon”

The Black Mondays (part 1)

Bandon 1689.. The town at that time was held for King James ii by a garrison comprising of one troop of horse and two companies of foot under the command of Captain Daniel O’Neill. Nine days earlier, on the 16th of February, O’ Neil issued a proclamation from the Market House on South Main Street and the North Gate at Kilbrogan ordering the inhabitants to surrender all their arms and ammunition within three days. At the expiry of the deadline only a few weapons were surrendered so O’ Neil sent word to Lord Clancarthy who instantly replied saying that he would arrive in Bandon with six companies of foot at midday on February 25th.

The Bandonians having ample notice of Clancarthy’s arrival and greatly encouraged by news that William of Orange had ascended to the throne resolved to resist the attack and furthermore expel all Jacobites from within the walls. If the would-be rebels needed further motivation it came from reports that Captain O’ Neil had declared that, on the Sunday after Clancarthy’s arrival Cathholic mass would be celebrated on the altar of Kilbrogan church, an abomination of biblical proportions to the “ne plus ultra” of Irish Protestantism.

At that time the only entrance to Kilbrogan church was via Church Lane and the present site of the gates on North Main Street was, according to Bennett, occupied by “an old two-storied house, whose big bay windows, high pointed gables and conical roof formed an appropriate residence for its well known inhabitant. The tenant-in-cheif of this gloomy-looking domicile was an elderly lady called Kathy Holt”. It seems that Kathy was a bit of a gossip and to learn what news she could, she allowed people through her house as a shortcut to and from the church. The direct path to the church was well used so Kathy’s house was considered the perfect place for the plotters to meet and plan their insurrection.

On the following Sunday, after prayers in Kilbrogan church the leaders of the revolt assembled in secret upstairs in the quaint old house and having elected the Presbyterian minister Hardinge as chairman they drew up plans to disarm O’ Neil’s garrison the next morning just before sunrise. The conspirators then agreed to go about Bandon recruiting as many others as would join them in their enterprise, it was agreed that updates would be relayed to the leaders at regular intervals and by ten o’clock that night all the elements of the plan were in place and the signal to rise would be the ringing of the bell of Kilbrogan at cock-crow. Jack Sullivan, the sextant of Kilbrogan was charged with the task of ringing the bell but noticing his reluctance to do so, his wife Nancy struck him with a hay-maker and pulling on the rope cried “O Lord, spare not the philistines!” the bell tolled and echoed through the town, the rebels attacked the houses where the Jacobites were billeted and though they hoped for a bloodless coup eight soldiers were killed. Three of the dead, Sergeant John Barry and two of the company of foot were Protestants, they were buried in Kilbrogan and the five Catholics in their own churchyard outside of the walls... (to be continued)

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