The short-lived, brutal 1798 Rebellion instigated by the United Irishmen commences when on the night of the 23rd May, the mail coaches leaving Dublin were seized – as a signal to those United Irishmen outside the capital that the time of the uprising had arrived.
Founded in 1791, The United Irishmen had been inspired by the French Revolution. Led by Theobald Wolfe Tone, Thomas Russell, Henry Joy McCracken and William Drennan, their idealistic goal was to unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter into one political movement to rid Ireland of English rule. The seizure of the mail coaches did not evoke a rising in Dublin as planned and over the coming days mis-matched Irish rebels throughout the country, but especially Wexford, were put to the sword by a brutal English response.
The 1798 Rebellion was the bloodiest in Irish History. Over two months, atrocities occurred on both sides. The number of casualties among the Irish – rebels and civilians – ranges from 10,000 to 50,000. English military casualties (many of them Irish) are estimated between 1,000-2,000 with possibly another 1,000 civilians loyal to the crown also killed.
Photo: Henry Joy McCracken’s Grave, Clifton Street, Belfast