Specific Incidents of the 1867 Fenian Rising.
The Battle of Tallaght
Though this particular engagement is not deserving of the title "Battle"
that is how it is remembered. The image above was the scene of the engagement known as the Battle of Tallaght which occurred during the Fenian rising on 5th March 1867. Thanks to a well-developed network of informers
, the British establishment knew very well the plans for that date and still allowed the men to collect their arms and come together with rebellion in their hearts.
They rebels moved out that night to a spot on Tallaght Hill previously assigned. The large number of armed men heading toward this one point from all over the area alarmed certain "loyal"
elements within the area and local barracks were alerted of this happening.
There were 14 constables
and a head constable under Inspector Burke at Tallaght Police Barracks, and these men took up positions outside their barracks (above) from which they commanded the roads from both Greenhills and Templeogue.
The first contingent of Fenians (numbering about 40) to come into contact with the police came under immediate and heavy fire. They were quick to retreat dragging with them a wounded comrade who was bayoneted by a constable after the Fenian made an attempt to strike him with a sword. They left behind a cart of cartridges and other ammunition supplies.
The second probing attack by the Fenians was comprised of nearly 500 men
. They approached the barricaded police and came within 20 metres of the fortified spot before they were driven back by a hail of bullets from the peelers. Inspector Burke called on them to surrender "in the name of the Queen"; and said that there were a large number of police with him behind the barricades. The Fenians halted and hesitated. They fired a few potshots at the barracks and then the whole lot of them ran away down the same road from which they approached. Again, around half-twelve, a similarly sized number of Fenians approached the barracks. Once again, upon being ordered to surrender by Burke, they turned and fled.
Finally, a contingent of Fenians numbering around 1,000
marched with military precision toward the police position. Again they were told to surrender or they would be fired upon. On hearing this, the rebels opened fire on the peelers. Not a single shot hit its target and the police returned fire; wounding several Fenians. The Fenians fled, many leaving their weapons behind. The police picked up numerous arms, consisting of rifles, bayonets, pikes, and daggers, as well as a large amount of ammunition.
In 1963, almost a hundred years after the "battle", a skeleton was found in a hollowed out tree near the badminton club in Terenure armed with a sword. This man must have taken refuge in the tree after one of the number of retreats during that night. He could have died from wounds, or the exposure to the terrible blizzard and temperatures that blustery March night.
This is the shameful story of how 14 peelers defeated an estimated 5,000 armed Fenians
. The leadership that was expected on Tallaght Hill that night never showed
to lead the battle. The men, like headless chickens, ran about in disarray, inflicting NO casualties and never taking the police barracks.