The Irish Rebellion of 1641
Narrative by Jonathan Gray.
On the 23 September 1641 a great rebellion of the native Irish began all over Ireland. However it was in Ulster that the full wrath of the rebellion was felt. Those areas such as Antrim, Down and Armagh that had been extensively settled by Scots were the subject of a tide of violence brought on by years of resentment and bitterness.

The Scots had not only displaced the native Irish but their mainly Presbyterian beliefs were contrary to the Roman Catholic Irish. Added to this was the fact that they were seen as identifying with the growing puritan, anti-royalist and anti-Roman Catholic movement in England.

Against this background the rebellion was to yield stories of terrible violence, the most famous of which was the slaughter of a large number of protestant families at Portadown. Although some of the stories told of such incidents have been dismissed as exaggeration, there is little doubt from the extensive records of the time that the rebellion was a bloody one and some scholars have put the death toll amongst the settlers at over 10,000.

In the years to follow the Scots settlers would attempt to redress the losses of 1641 although initially this would end in failure at the battle of Benburb. The arrival of Cromwell in 1649 would see the delivery of a terrible and crushing blow against the native Irish and at least allow the settlers to begin to expand once again. However it would see the emergence of a new era and a new adversary in the form of the throne of England and an attack on their rights and religious beliefs.

This is likely the most famous account of the violence with which the Rebellion of 1641 has been associated. Indeed it is recalled even today on the banners of some Orange Lodges during their parades.

Jonathan Gray has detailed the account below as it is found amongst the extensive records of the time and which are now held in Trinity College Dublin:-


And as for this deponent and many others that where stayed behind , diverse tortures were used upon them.....and this deponent for her part was thrice hanged up to confess to money, and afterwards let down, and had the soles of her feet fried and burnt at the fire and was often scourged and whipt....
And a great number of other Protestants, principally women and children, whom the rebels would take, they pricked and stabbed with their pitchforks, skeans and swords and would slash, mangle and cut them in their heads and breasts, faces, arms, and hands and other parts of their bodies, but not kill them outright but leave them wallowing in their blood to languish and starve them to death.

The Bridge at Portadown