Croppies Grave, Graiguecullen
The Croppies Grave at ‘98 Street, Graiguecullen is the last resting
place for more than 600 United Irishmen who died in action in the early
morning of 25th May 1798.
The United Irishmen were betrayed by one of their leaders and fell
into a well planned ambush. They were mowed down by shot and shell or
smoked out of their plans of refuge and butchered like hunted animals.
The memory of the United Irishmen is honoured by the ‘98 Street
Monument. The wall and railings of the grave were paid for with funds
raised by the GAA. The memorial slab is the gift of an Orangeman, Rowan
The inscription on the slab reads:
“To the memory of 640
United Irishmen who fell in Tullow Street on May 25th 1798.”
The fighting in Graigue-Carlow in 1798 was perhaps of less strategic
importance than in any other part of Leinster, but the massacre of 25th
May was always cited as a characteristic example of the savage an
unrelenting manner in which the king’s troops upheld the authority of the
As in other parts of Ireland in 1798, the unabated series of
Government abuses and the revolting practices of the Orange Order had,
months before the outbreak, sowed the seeds of discontent in the minds
of the Catholics. The cause of the Catholics was spearheaded by Sir
Edward Crosbie, a member of the Established Church and owner of the
large estate of Viewmount, about two miles outside Carlow town. However
the attack on the United Irishmen was planned on this very estate by the
On the 24th of May, the United Irishmen of the neighbourhood gathered
at the appointed meeting place at Viewmount. By evening a force of about
1,195 men had assembled, including the following corps; 500 pike men from
Ballon, Rathoe and Rathvilly, under Captain Jam Roche; 200 from
Kellistown, Chaplestown and Ballinacarrig, and John Murphy and 275 pike
men from Bennekerry, Rutland, Johnstown, Killerig and Pollerton,
under Captain Nolan. An auxiliary corps of 200 ‘‘gunmen” under Captain
William Murphy and Myles Doran, were assembled at Ballickmoyler with the
object of joining in operations. The Queen’s County Corps were to march
against the town first and having arrived at Graigue, on their own side
of the Barrow, they were to fire three successive volleys as a signal
for their brethren. Then the body at Viewmount would go into action,
starting by the Staplestown route and entering at a thoroughfare called
A few days before the outbreak, a turncoat named James Keogh, also
called “Yellow Jim”, who had won the confidence of the Rebels by his
loud denunciation of the Orangemen, and by various other devices,
secretly informed the British Commander of the frill details of the
conspiracy. With the greatest secrecy, the King’s troops stationed in
Carlow’ were now instructed, not alone to repel the intended attach but
also if possible, to annihilate the attacking body. “Dame the Croppies and no quarter” was the order of the day.
At the approach of dusk on May 24th, the King’s troops quietly took
up positions assigned to them; ‘A’ Squadron of the 9th Dragoons posted
themselves on Hanover Bridge, while Graigue Bridge was occupied by a
strong Corps of Yeomen. Two Companies of the North Cork Militia extended
from Bridewell Lane to Burrin Street and Potato Market and another
Squadron of the Dragoons were stationed at Coal Market. A strong
detachment of Durham Fencibles were in the old graveyard of St. Mary’s
on Castle Hill, the most commanding vantage point. Most of the houses in
Barrack Street and Tullow Street, through which the attacking forces
were expected to pass, were taken possession of by Yeomen Infantry.
The Ballickmoyler auxiliaries started for their destination at the
appointed time, but on arriving at Graigue Bridge, learned that the
Bridge was occupied by the military. They decided to retreat. The
insurgents at Viewmount waited impatiently for the agreed signal and
none being heard, the Commander - in - Chief, Captain Roche, finally set
his forces in motion, hoping to capture the town without outside aid.
Day was dawning when the insurgents reached Tullow Street. Not
a sound issued from the grey, closed-up buildings of Tullow Street, not
a soul appeared to be stirring within. Then suddenly, the window
shutters on all sides flew open and a fearful volley of shot brought
down 50 United Irishmen. From every house and every roof-top the shot
and shell rained down upon the assailants. The United Irishmen panicked
and in their rush for shelter, they plunged headlong into an ambush in
Barrack Street. There they were caught by another murderous crossfire,
which brought down whole ranks at a time, including every leader of
importance. This final blast completed the rout. The rebels, who had so
far escaped death, threw away their weapons and dashed into the houses
around hoping to find security.
appeared in 'Fiacc's Folk' Parish Magazine in the 1997/98 edition.
The article is unsigned.
At a meeting of the Carlow Gaelic
Atheltic Club on Tuesday, June 18,1889, the subject of the "Croppy
Hole" and its "neglected and discreditable state, exposed to
desecration of every kind" was discussed. It was resolved to
co-operate with Carlow-Graigue Gaelic Club in raising funds to enclose
the ground and erect a suitable memorial.
On Sunday, November 24,1889 a meeting was
held in The Hall, Henry Street, Graigue at which Fr. Daniel Byrne,
P.P. Carlow-Graigue presided.
After the meeting the gathering left the
hall and marched to the Fair Green and formed a circle around the
ground to be enclosed where Father Byrne turned the first sod to
inaugurate the undertaking.
Source: Carloviana 1989/90 No.37. Page 8.
Croppies' Grave Tradition
Newspaper-cutting in the PPP.
Letter to Nationalist
and Leinster Times.
Transcribed by M. Purcell 2013
Regarding the statement that the three trees, which stand at the
"Croppies' Grave" were planted by Rowan McCombe, a sympathising
Orangeman, there is in Graiguecullen a well-authenticated tradition
that these trees were planted by Mrs Peggy Mullery (nee Delaney), who
was born in '98 Street, and lived in a small thatched house opposite
the "Croppies' Grave". It is said that she planted the trees with a
spoon when she was a young girl of fourteen or so. She was well over
ninety when she died. Her grave is in Sleaty. She often prayed for and
talked of "the poor fellows" who were buried in the grave. She used to
tell that , when the bodies of the Croppies' were being brought past
what is now Dan Brennan's forge, one of the Croppies' who was only
apparently wounded escaped into Caseberry's yard (at present owned by
James Lawlor) and eventually made his way home. Mrs Mullery is
remembered by several people in Graiguecullen. It was the late Father
Dan Byrne P.P. Graiguecullen who organised the movement which
transfigured the "Croppies' Hole" containing the remains of over 600
United Irishmen from being a neglected sandpit. It was the late
Patrick McDarby, who made the railings.
(signed) Liam de Fuitne,
Sleaty Street, Graiguecullen.
Crossing Graiguecullen Bridge at
Easter 1966, to join in the Commemoration Ceremony at the
Croppy Grave. It was one of the biggest parades ever in
Crossing Graiguecullen Bridge at
Old IRA 1966
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