The 1798 Rebellion in Ireland was one of the most defining events in the nation’s history, and Swinford, Co Mayo was within an important location of political and military activity. The Brabazons of Swinford played a significant and colourful role. William Brabazon was one of the Swinford United Irishmen – the Society which organised the uprising – and was part of an armed group that turned back some 200 British Dragoons who were trying to reach Castlebar, the county town of Mayo. William along with his compatriots then journeyed to Castlebar themselves and took part in the famous battle between the British and French-Irish forces. The French had landed at Kilalla on the north Mayo coast and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The British lost the Battle but won the war - they regrouped, counter-attacked and finally defeated the French-led army. After the Battle of Castlebar, the French commander General Humbert marched through Swinford and rested at Corley’s Hotel in the town’s centre, the meeting place and HQ of the local United Irishmen. The soldiers were encamped on the Brabazon demesne and Sir Anthony Brabazon provided two steers and large wrought-iron gates to roast them on for what was in effect a mega BBQ.
After the defeat, the Irish rebels were tried in the courts but many got off. In the Swinford jurisdiction Sir Anthony’s youngest brother Edward, who was a local lawyer, successfully defended many of the rebels. The authority in Dublin wrote (in vain) to Sir Anthony, the J.P., instructing him to make Edward desist – they were obviously unaware of Brabazon intransigence (and family loyalties)!
The pics are from a recent 1798 commemoration ceremony in Swinford in which a plaque was placed on the exterior of Corley’s Hotel.
Pictures courtesy MichaelMaye.com