independent

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Sword used in 1798 rebellion turns up in Canadian museum

Local historian Michael Fortune.
Local historian Michael Fortune.
The sword used in 1798 on display in Perth Museum, Ontario, Canada.

Pádraig Byrne

Carrying out some research online while trying to establish the origins of the name of a local bridge has resulted in a link being established with a sword in a Canadian Museum. Local historian Michael Fortune was carrying out some research as part of a mapping project of Ballygarrett when he eventually stumbled upon a sword in a Canadian museum that had been used by a cavalryman in the Ballaghkeene Yeomanry in 1798.

'About 2 kilometres from my home place there is a little bridge known by the immediate locals as "Greenly's' Bridge",' Michael explained. 'Even though it is so close to my home place, I never knew the name. A neighbour of mine, Nicky Walsh of Peppardcastle told me that he'd heard that Greenlys were Protestant tenant farmers, who were Yeo's during the 1798 Rising. That's all we had. No Greenly name survives locally.'

When putting together a map of Ballygarrett, Michael decided to throw the name into Google and was shocked by what he found.

'I decided to put the name 'Greenly' and 'Peppardscastle' into Google to check the spelling of the name,' he said. 'Low and behold, John Greenly formerly of Peppardscastle comes up in a family history page. Every detail of John, his wife, his children and how in 1815/16 they left Wexford and moved to Canada.'

The family research showed that John was a cavalryman in the Ballaghkeene Yeomanry and was badly wounded in 1798 and treated in Kilmainham, Dublin. In 1815, he decided to leave Ballygarrett and among the possessions he brought with him was the sword he had used in 1798. After a little more digging, Michael was eventually forwarded photographs of the sword on display in Perth Museum, Ontario, Canada.

'It's dreadful to think of what stories that sword could tell, as the Yeomanry in the Ballygarrett area were notoriously brutal during and after the 1798 Rising, Michael said. 'But that's another story. In the meantime, here is John Greenly, a native of Peppardscastle and only for the memory of a local place name and the power of the internet, I wouldn't have this story to tell.'

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