Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy, 'who fears to speak of 98'

This place that I visited today with its lovely peaceful walks surrounding it and fragrant furze was for one day in 1798 a place of slaughter and brutality that still lives in Irish conscience to this day. 
The reason its called Vinegar Hill is the English pronunciation of its name in Irish Cnoc (ka-nook) Fiodh (fwee) na gCaor(gur) Hill of the wood with the Berries 
"Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations"*
A view from the west showing the steepness of  that side of the hill

A view from the east side from which most of the English attack was focused

The 1798 rebellion in Ireland was influenced by the French and American revolutions, one of the major turning point battles of that revolution and still lives in Irish conscience today was the Battle of Vinegar Hill in Enniscorthy on the 21st of June. Wexford to the south was surrounded by the British so 20,000 thousand Irish men armed mostly with pikes and spears with their families alongside tried in vain to hold their ground against an English Army of the same number, but who were armed and had artillery and a cavalry to back them up .

The Irish rebels were not only defeated but slaughtered for their troubles in one of the worst atrocities since Cromwell had landed one these shores.  The hill was bombarded with artillery and the Irish had to try and flee as there was no cover, one of the English troop leaders left a gap and most managed to flee with their families through a gap. The British sent their cavalry to kill the retreating Irish, they killed hundreds of the fleeing. Those that were caught and those that got left behind were summarily hung or killed on the spot, if they were lucky. Some were burned alive, yet worse was kids were killed, women gang raped and killed. A makeshift hospital in the town was set alight burning alive those wounded inside.

The remains of a windmill on the top which was the only structure on the hill.

the little plateau on the top of the hill
A view out the east window showing the distance that can be seen

If you open this you can see the vast area that can be viewed in all directions from the little tower.

Looking south
The last few are just an example of the hill side rock and plants

More to follow on the this.
Part of the title of the post 'Who fears to speak of 98' is the title of an Irish rebel song, whenever Vinegar Hill or  the rebellion of 98 is mentioned it is one of the first responses that Irish people give.
* the Quote is taken from the graveside eulogy of O’Donovan Rossa by Patrick Pearse one of the leaders of the 1916 rising. The last lines contain the prophetic words "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace".


Leisha Camden said...

What an awful story ... but interesting, thank you for sharing. I'm learning new things about Irish history all the time here. :-) Do you know why the place is called Vinegar Hill? Great photos, as always. ;-)

Paz said...

its a sad story but its why I put in the quote from the famous Eulogy (in Ireland) by Patrick Pearse one of the rebel leaders of the 1916 rising.
"Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations". It inspired men for years when men with pikes could stand up to an Army.
The reason its called Vinegar Hill is the English pronunciation of its name in Irish Cnoc (ka-nook) Fiodh (fwee) na gCaor(gur) hill of the wood with the Berries

Paz said...

BTW thanks for the comment on the photos, the first few are not great as a stand alone but the whole set makes them work.
I have updated to include the name meaning

Kimberly said...

It is a sad story.. but i absolutely love your photos!!

Paz said...

It is a beautiful little spot, it is such a pity that something so terrible had to happen there. But such is life.
Thanks for the comment on the photo.

Forgot to mention to Leisha too, that I will have pictures from part 2 of the story tomorrow. I should be asleep now for work in the morning but was going thro' those and other photo's I have not posted yet.

Cattia Salto said...

Amazing pictures, I did a link on my blog in

Thomas McBride said...

Outstanding story. You explained everything so well. I will visit that spot during my next visit.

Brad said...

Many years ago I saw on public television a segment of a period piece, the name of which I did not catch. One scene began with a lower third title "Vinegar Hill". What followed was a desperate charge by scarcely armed farming folk into the guns of well-disciplined redcoats. The slaughter was so sad I had to turn it off but I never forgot it.

Recently I noticed that a neighborhood in Brooklyn bears the name Vinegar Hill, making me at first wonder if the battle I'd seen was part of the American Revolution. Your post and some additional researching set me straight. However, the neighborhood was in fact named in honor of the battle.

Thank you for bringing this historic place alive with your words and images.

Nigel Carty said...

I actually grew up on the slopes of Vinegar Hill. It's where I spent my childhood ☺