Fr John Murphy's Last Journey

The last journey of Fr. John Murphy through County Carlow began with the aftermath of the Battle of Kilcumney which took place on June 26th 1798. The hill of Kilcumney near Goresbridge is situated on the County Carlow side of the boundary. It was here that the Rebels were surrounded by a large party of military and yeomanry who were under the command of Sir Charles Asgill. The Rebels had to make their retreat through the Scollagh Gap and the resulting slaughter in the skirmish was considerable. Asgill reported that he had killed Fr. John Murphy and approximately one thousand of the Rebels. However his claims were not accurate. Fr. Murphy had actually left the party of Insurgents and together with his bodyguard and companion James Gallagher had set off on a different route.

Their first stopping point was in the townland of Killoughternane at the house of the O'Connell family. There they remained for at least one night. They then moved on to the house of Fr. Murphy's relatives also named Murphy who lived in the townland of Bawnoge near Ballymurphy. By now it was June 29th and they made their way to the home of a Protestant family called Griffith who resided at Rosdellig. They may then have called to the O'Connell household once again. The route then turned northwards before the men rested again and tradition recounts that it was Myshall that Fr. Murphy celebrated his last Mass. They were accommodated by the Jordan family of Coolnashaughta in that parish. The house of Jacob Nolan was their next stopping point and now they had reached the Kilconnor area and afterwards they moved nearer to Tullow by lodging at Kehoes of Tobarbride. The Protestant family of Keppel at Ballyveale was their next stopping place before moving to the townland of Castlemore where they were finally discovered by a party of the Tullow yeomanry on the morning of July 2nd. Fr. John Murphy and James Gallagher were tried before a military court. The officers presiding at this trial were General Sir James Duff, Colonel Foster his aide de camp, Lord Boden, Colonel Piggott Captain McClintock, Colonel Eden and Major Hall.

The execution which followed was particularly brutal and tragic with Fr. Murphy's head spiked on a railing and his body burned in a barrel of pitch. His body was later buried in Ferns and his head was later removed to the cemetery at the Mullawn in Tullow. Fr. John's last journey ended in County Carlow and so today he is commemorated in a memorial statue on the town square.

previousPrevious - Fr John Murphy
Next - Carlow - Graigue 1798 Memorialnext