Occupation: Irish outlaw

One of the most valuable things that I erm backed up when I left the Independent was a CD of the DNB running up to about 1995. I always use it for researching the ancestors of my profile subjects. I found a Redmond O’Hanlon there this morning:

O'Hanlon, Redmond d. 1681
Name                 O'Hanlon, Redmond
Otherwise            Count Hanlon
Dates                d. 1681
Active Date          1661
Gender               Male

Field of Interest    Anti-establishment
Occupation           Irish outlaw
Spouse               An innkeeper's daughter
Sources              Carte MSS. vol. xxxix.; Carte's Life of the Duke of Ormonde, bk. viii

There is much to enjoy in the full entry, and a chilling reminder of how close 17th century Ireland was to present-day Afghanistan.

Irish outlaw, known on the continent as Count Hanlon, was one of a clan called in Irish the Hanluain, who furnished a standard-bearer north of the Boyne. They were seated in the baronies of Orier, in co. Armagh, and their chief was wounded at the Moyry Pass when carrying the queen’s colours in July 1595. Oghie O’Hanlon was knighted, and fell fighting under Mountjoy at Carlingford in November 1600. On the settlement of Ulster under James I grants were made to various O’Hanlons; but they lost all during the civil war, and their ruin was confirmed by the operation of the Acts of Settlement and Explanation under Charles II. In his youth Redmond appears to have served in the army during Strafford’s government, and to have been discharged at the reduction of the forces which immediately preceded and partly caused the great Irish outbreak of 1641. He fled to France on account of his share in some affray. The date of his return to Ireland is uncertain, but he became a leader of outlaws or tories in Ulster about 1670, when he had finally abandoned all hopes of regaining his patrimony. His brother Loghlin shared his fortunes. Arthur Capel, earl of Essex [q.v.], who governed Ireland from 1672 to 1677, made many vain attempts to capture O’Hanlon, who had become an intolerable scourge.

The Duke of Ormonde returned as viceroy in August 1677, and soon turned his attention to the formidable tory. Redmond levied regular contributions on the counties of Armagh, Tyrone, and Down. Much land lay waste, and no road was safe. His favourite haunt was Slieve Gullion between Newry and Dundalk, where his father had possessed lands, and one of his greatest enemies was Edmund Murphy, parish priest of Killevy, at the foot of those hills. O’Hanlon imposed penalties on all who resorted to Murphy — a cow for the first offence, two for the second, and death for the third. Captain William Butler, who had the confidence of his kinsman the lord-lieutenant, lay with his company at Dundalk, and plotted the outlaw’s destruction with Father Murphy and Sir Hans Hamilton. Redmond could harm so many that he had interested friends even in the army. Two officers, Smith and Baker, of whom the latter was a local magistrate and proprietor, were among these, and he had five accomplices in Butler’s own company. There were several attempts to arrest him in and after September 1678, but his intelligence was too good. He thought it prudent to rob in Connaught for a time, but returned to his old ground in the autumn of 1679. An outlaw employed as a spy by Hamilton and Butler was murdered by Lieutenant Baker, who, with singular impudence, presented his head to Ormonde; and Father Murphy was imprisoned at Dundalk, lest he should give information about his delinquencies and those of Ensign Smith. Murphy managed to get to Dublin, leaving his brother as a hostage, and his interview with the lord-lieutenant sealed Redmond O’Hanlon’s fate: 200l. was placed on his head, 100l. on Loghlin’s, and Sir Hans Hamilton was allowed a free hand.

Henry Jones [q.v.], bishop of Meath, whose daughter was married to Mr. Annesley of Castlewellan, tried to get a pardon for Redmond on condition of his proving his sincerity, first ‘by bringing in or cutting off some of the principal tories,’ and afterwards by keeping the district clear from them. Sir Hans Hamilton, who was educated at Glasgow, hints that the bishop was bribed through his son-in-law. But Redmond was also intriguing with Roger Boyle [q.v.], bishop of Clogher, and Annesley suggested a little later that the government would show no mercy unless the outlaw informed about the French conspiracy which was supposed to be on foot in connection with Oates’s plot; but he told nothing, and probably there was nothing to tell. At two o’clock in the afternoon of 25 April 1681 he was asleep in an empty cabin guarded by his foster-brother Arthur O’Hanlon; but the faithless sentinel shot him dead, and received 100l. reward for so doing. His wife, or reputed wife, who was an innkeeper’s daughter, was much younger than he was, and is believed to have given the signal in revenge for his ill-usage. The secret commission which led to this result was written by Ormonde with his own hand. Loghlin O’Hanlon was killed towards the end of the same year by John Mullin, who received 50l.

Redmond O’Hanlon had at one time fifty men under his orders, and had often a band in each of the four provinces at once. His own disguises were many, and he more than once escaped by inviting soldiers sent after him to an inn, and making them drunk before they found out who he was. He once took to the water when hotly pursued near Carlingford, and when a dog was sent in after him drew the animal under, and dived or swam away. Many stories are told of his courage and strength, and some generous actions are ascribed to him, but also many murders. He sometimes left his native hills to lurk in the bog of Allen or other wild places, and once ventured as far south as Clonmel, where he rescued the great Munster tory Power from his captors. In Slieve Gullion and its neighbourhood many local traditions about him survive. A very old man, bearing the name of Redmond O’Hanlon, and claiming to be his descendant, died close to Silverbridge, co. Armagh, about 1889. Sir F. Brewster, writing immediately after the great tory’s death, says he was a scholar and a man of parts, and adds that ‘considering the circumstances he lay under, and the time he continued, he did, in my opinion, things more to be admired [i.e. wondered at] than Scanderbeg himself.’

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