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Local Studies Department

The 1798 Rebellion in County Kildare

Town/Village Index of the Rebellion of 1798 - Rathangan

Throughout the day and into the evening of Thursday 24th May, rebels gathered near the town and some houses were attacked and burned. Captain Langton and the South Cork Militia were ordered to Sallins but persuaded by James Spencer, the Duke of Leinster's agent and captain of the yeomanry, to remain in the town. That night a large rebel force attacked the town from two different directions but were driven out by the troops and the yeomen and 13 rebels were slain. The next afternoon, Langton and the militia marched out of Rathangan.

At 3 pm on Saturday 26th May, around 5,000 rebels, led by John Doorley of Lullymore, occupied and fortified the town. Nineteen loyalists, including Spencer, were killed by the rebels, most in cold blood. As in Ballitore the Quaker community, though harassed for provisions, were unharmed. Many loyalists in neighbouring areas fled towards Edenderry.

Lt. Colonel Mahon marched from Tullamore, in the early morning of Monday 28th May, to recapture the town. He encountered rebels outside the town and killed 14-16 of them, but was repulsed by the rebels in the town with the loss of 3 men. Around 8 am Mahon was reinforced and once more attacked the town. Again the troops were repulsed, this time they lost 4 killed and 2 wounded.

Around 11 am Colonel Longfield arrived with detachments of dragoons, the City of Cork Militia and 2 field pieces. After the second artillery discharge the rebels fled and were pursued by the cavalry who killed 50-60 of them. Longfield wrote to Dundas the next day; "I took no prisoners. The troops are in want of everything, the Rebels having destroyed everything in or near the town." Some of the rebels captured, like Edward Molloy one of their leaders, were hanged in the street.

Published by Kildare County Council

Written by Mario Corrigan .