‘Where Tipperary goes, Ireland follows’ were the words of Thomas Osborne Davis.
Davis was a revolutionary Irish writer who was the chief organiser and poet of the Young Ireland movement. (http://ballingarry.net/warhouse/guide.html)
Visiting the War House before anyone else has a little advantage, and that’s getting a few photo’s without having to wait for others to move out of the way. We were met at the main gate by the very gracious John Webster, who has a great sense of pride in his community role of raising the flag every day at this location.
He welcomed both of us in and we were allowed the run of the place. The first thing that I remembered was the little gate into the house itself and as I walked through I looked behind me to the landscape. Even though the site is on high ground and I know the views to be spectacular, the day was wet and visibility was limited but that helped, as I could focus on what it must have been like. I remembered the account of Thomas Walsh, he was forced to cross from one side of the front gate to the other and as he crossed between the gate piers he was shot dead by the police. I walked through those gates and looked behind me at the boundary wall that people took shelter behind and I could almost hear the shouting and gunfire, but I know that’s my own imagination and John went on to ask me ‘Do you mind ghosts Fiona?’ I replied that I usually get on OK with them as I don’t put in or out and I try my best not to disturb them.
By all accounts the Young Irelanders were an educated lot of influential men, I’ve been reading through the Ballingarry web-site http://www.ballingarry.net/famine-warhouse-1848-historical-documents-articles/ and I’m so impressed with the amount of local information that the people of Ballingarry have included. It is a mark of the love of their history that such work is on-going. I’m discovering even more of my own heritage because of the dedication of these people.
As you walk in the front door the drawing room is to the left and the kitchen to the right, straight ahead is the back door and stairs that lead to four bedrooms. The widow McCormack had five children, all of them were held hostage by Sub-Inspector ‘Trant’ and his 46 policemen after they took refuge in the farmhouse. They barricaded themselves in, pointing their guns from the windows. The house was surrounded by the rebels and a stand-off ensued. Mrs. Margaret McCormack, the owner of the house and mother of the children, demanded to be let into her house, but the police refused and wouldn’t release her children.
We wandered through the house on bare floor boards, I sat in the kitchen for a while, alone as Joe went off with his camera, I got a whiff of soot so I went over for a closer look and stick my head up the chimney.
Real or imagined I can hear the conversations, I can feel the family. I can sense the fear this Widow had while her children were locked up with armed gunmen. I left the room quickly and called out ‘Where are ya Joe’ and trundled up the stairs to see what he was up to.
We stayed a while longer and read through all the history information that was there, read about the Young Irelanders and where they ended up … it’s a fascinating read that I highly recommend and you’ll find it on the link I shared above.
As we walked out the back door I looked again at this little farm house that would have fallen to the grounds if it wasn’t for the dedication of the people in the area.
What happened here is going down in history, and we’re here today doing our bit to help that history stay alive.
On our way to the village (Commons) it rained some more so the event was moved into a marquee. Tables and chairs were hauled from one end of the village to another as the ‘Young Irelanders’ got themselves ready and Séamus played the role of Thomas Francis Meagher who turned up, on horseback.
It is amazing to see these local men and women throw themselves into keeping alive our histories. The day was a credit to everyone involved and from my own perspective I learned loads more – I hope I can encourage you all to go out and about and find for yourselves what’s in your area … write a blog, create a facebook page or just make up an album and send it in to us and we’ll share it for you.
Our history is around us and it’s there to inspire us, all we need to do is listen to the conversation.
We’ll be posting more images and ‘history bits’ on the facebook page for anyone who’s interested in learning more either on the facebook page or on Joe’s own photography page, https://www.facebook.com/JoeOrmondePhotography?fref=ts