Massacre at the Gibbet Rath

The force beaten by Dundas on KilcullenBridge had massed itself on the ancient hill at Knockaulin, and on 27 May they treated with Dundas for peace. Initial terms seem confused but the arrival of Lake on the command of Camden, set the tone of government policy. The rebels were given protections for their lives on the condition they would lay down their arms and return home, to abide by the peace and deliver up their leaders. Officially the rebel force was estimated to be about 4,00 strong, men whose sorrow and repentance seemed complete. The leaders were in this instance allowed to disperse with the rest of the rebel army when the treaty was concluded on 28 May, Whit Monday.

The peace was mainly due to Dundas's clemency and he had personally ascended the hill to accept the terms. Lake it seemed was prepared to blast the rebels into oblivion with the troops he had on hand near the avenue at Castlemartin. Despite his critics in Dublin Dundas achieved immediate results. He received news that another large rebel force, assembled on the Gibbet Rath, on the Curragh, were prepared to surrender on similar terms.

Negotiations were almost at an end when Major-general sir James Duff arrived at the head of 150 dragoons, about 350 militia and seven field pieces in KildareTown. He had reached Monasterevin from Limerick by forced march, in only forty-eight hours. This was to re-open the lines of communication. The shambles that ensued left 350 rebels massacred at the Curragh plains with hardly any loss to the military.

In a letter to Lake begun in Monasterevin (the morning of May), Duff said he was, determined to make a dreadful example of the rebels whose cruelties committed on some of the officers and men have exasperated them to a great degree. He described the battle, in a postscript.

P.S. Kildare two o'clock p.m. We found the rebels retiring from the town on our arrival, armed, we followed them with the dragoons. I sent some of the yeomen to tell them, on laying down their arms, they should not be hurt. Unfortunately, some of the fired on the troops; but from that moment they were attacked from all sides; nothing could stop the rage of the troops. I believe from two to three hundred of the rebels were killed. We have three men killed and several wounded.


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