George Hutchinson is commonly remembered for his role in crushing the local United Irishmen during the 1798 Rebellion.
In 1798, magistrates were encouraged to deal harshly with offenders. Those found guilty of insurrection risked being given a public lashing, transportation to the penal colonies or execution by hanging. Hutchinson is alleged to have ordered the execution of Alexander Gamble, Samuel Bonniton and William Adams. He sentenced two men to death at Dungorbery and hanged them from a tree on the top of a hill. Their bodies were later unearthed 50 years later. These notorious cases have led to him being remembered as ‘Bloody’ Hutchinson.
Legend has it that every Friday 13th and Halloween night, with a large metal ball chained to his ankle ‘Bloody’ Hutchinson haunts the town’s Main Street. A tunnel under the town is said to have been used by Hutchinson to move secretly and safely from his house.
The Old Church Tower is the oldest surviving building in the town. The tower has a date stone inscribed 1637 and is included on the Borough Coat of Arms. Among those buried in the graveyard is the town’s ghost George ‘Bloody’ Hutchinson. He was a magistrate who brought the local United Irishmen to trial during the rebellion of 1798. One of the rebels, Alexander Gamble, was hanged at the Diamond. Eighty-five years later his remains were discovered and re-interred here in 1883.
‘Bloody’ Hutchinson’s grave is reportedly the location for any amount of supernatural behaviour.
Presumptively, the most notorious of Hutchinson’s contentious acts was the hanging of Alexander Gamble, a United Irishman who also made soap for a living. He was tried and hanged at the clock-tower at the top of Main Street. Apparently he would have been spared if he had informed on his fellow United Irishmen. Reportedly, he replied with an answer, ‘I will die some day, and know not when; but it will never be cast in the face of my children that their father betrayed others to save himself’.
Legend has it that a fella was ‘dared’ to spend the night in the graveyard, being one of those types with the puffed-out chest and the gut-full of ale, he accepted the challenge. Apparently he appeared the next morning, bollock-naked, his hair white, gibbering incomprehensible nonsense about ‘ghosts’ and so on.
The main point of interest in this church yard is the oldest gravestone in the north of Ireland, dated 1610. There is a lot of old gravestones from the 1700′s and 1800′s. Some gravestones told tragic stories of whole families buried beneath the one stone, all children dead before the age of 20 and others told of surprising longevity for the times with one venerable lady living until the ripe old age of 103.
Despite his notorious reputation, he is also known to have been generous and kind. He was a leading figure in the community and donated land to help the building of the Roman Catholic chapel in Dunloy.
He also once received a gift from a grateful convict whose sentence he had reduced. The beautifully carved coconut shell was later inlaid in silver by the family, and it is still held by his descendents who now live in Australia.