Battle of Vinegar Hill revisited

By Dan Walsh

On 21 June 1798, 20,000 men, women and children found themselves trapped on a hill outside Enniscorthy, facing a Crown force of some 15,000 troops led by no less than four generals and 16 general officers.

More than two centuries later a multi-disciplinary research programme involving archaeologists, historians, folklorists, architectural historians and military specialists provides startling new insight into what happened at Vinegar Hill on that fateful day in June 1798.

The comprehensive story is told in a new publication called VINEGAR HILL… The Last Stand of the Wexford Rebels of 1798 by co-editors Ronan O’Flaherty and Jacqui Hynes quietly launched due to Covid-19 restrictions on Vinegar Hill recently. The work has 17 contributors and is a brilliant reference source with up-to-date detail through the efforts of an academic team that threw passion and expertise into the project.

It was the dying days of a rebellion that had shaken British rule in Ireland to its core. The army that now surrounded the hill was determined that none should escape. 

Using cutting-edge technology and traditional research, the sequence of the battle jumps sharply into focus, beginning with the ‘shock-and awe’ bombardment at dawn, the attack on Enniscorthy and the hill, and the critical defence of the bridge across the Slaney that allowed so many of the defenders on the hill to escape. 

At the launch of VINEGAR HILL… The Last Stand of the Wexford Rebels of 1798 were (left to right); Liz Hore, Head of Enterprise and Tourism, Tony Larkiin, Deputy CEO, Wexford County Council, Jacqui Hynes (co-editor), Cllr Cathal Byrne, Cathaoirleach, Enniscorthy Municipal District Council, Ronan O’Flaherty (co-editor), Cllr Aidan Browne, Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy, Cathaoirleach Wexford County Council and Cllr Jackser Owens. Pic. Patrick Browne

Dr Ronan O’Flaherty is an archaeologist and independent researcher, and Chair of The Longest Day Research Project.

Jacqui Hynes is a folklorist and teacher, a former manager of the National 1798 Rebellion Centre and a member of The Longest Day Research Project.

VINEGAR HILL The Last Stand of the Wexford Rebels of 1798, Ronan O’Flaherty and Jacqui Hynes, editors. Paperback Large Format, 352 pages, Full Colour throughout. Published by Four Courts Press, Dublin. ISBN: 978-1-84682-962-8

DON’T FORGET TO TUNE IN; Ronan O’Flaherty and Jacqui Hynes talks about the book, the archaeological survey of Vinegar Hill, and an overview of the Battle of Vinegar Hill with Dan Walsh on MIDWEEK VOICES, Wednesday, September 15th at 8pm on SOUTH EAST RADIO.

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