North Kildare and the Battle of Ovidstown

The situation was greatly defused by the defeat of the rebels at Ovidstown on 19 June. On 4 June they had stormed Kilcock, routed Sir Fenton Alymer's yeomanry and burned the barracks and courthouse. Two days after a military attack on Timahoe, William Alymer and five hundred rebels took Maynooth on 10 June. These raids were not purely of a military nature. On 14 June they took a herd of cattle from Maynooth and the next day 800 sheep from Richard Griffith. While it certainly took a lot of food to keep thousands of men in the field one is sorely pressed not to be cynical. As Munroe's forces were routed in Ballynahinch and the Wexford men in Arklow; as the campaign ended in Ulster and neared its climax in Wexford, Alymer's army was capturing sheep and cattle, struggling to survive.

Lord Castlereagh's brother recaptured Prosperous on 19 June with a strong detachment and the familiar tactics of bombardment and rout. Stewart ransacked and burnt this receptacle of rebellion as he called it regretting that his orders prevented him from pursing the rebels into the hills. The same day the main rebel army supposed upwards of three thousand men were attacked by Colonel Irwin at Ovidstown Hill between Clane and Kilcock.

Irwin?s force consisted of Highlanders, Dragoon Guards and Yeomen cavalry, and amounted to around 400 men. They surprised the rebels before breakfast and the rebel commanders barely had time to form their troops. Superiority of numbers again proved ineffective against canon and well directed musket fire, although it seems the battle was lost by the rebel pikemen who disobeyed orders to charge the enemy canon positions. Around 200 rebels were killed with the loss on the government side of only two officers, two sergeants and twenty privates. After this defeat the rebel army began to disband.

Some of the sympathetic historians such as Kavanagh, O'Kelly, O Muirthile and Mac Suibhne, maintained the tradition that Aylmer had gathered his men at Ovidstown, as a prelude to his march on Dublin while the government had concentrated its efforts in Wexford. In light of Alymer's record preceding this battle, this tradition appears to be an effort to glamourise the rebel failure.


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