1st March 1867
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The Fenian Rising in Ardagh in 1867

The evening of Shrove Tuesday, March 5, 1867 was the planned time for the Fenian Rising in Ireland.

In Ardagh, William Upton, who lived only a few doors from the R.I.C. barracks (manned by five men) seems to have been the leader of the local Fenian Centre. A carpenter by trade, it was he who fixed the wooden handles to the iron pike-heads - likely made by one of the Quinlivan's who were blacksmiths by trade - and distributed them to the men according as they arrived. This was done in Cosgrove's cabin.

Having about twenty-four pikes and no guns, some of the men scoured the neighbouring countryside and managed to acquire about 8/9 shot guns (fowling pieces). Finally, the group, about forty men in all, who had assembled at Cosgrove's were directed to a place called Massy's Grove, where an officer named Captain John Murray, assembled them into line, shot-guns in front, pike men behind, and outlined his plans for the attack. They then marched to the barracks, the time being close to midnight.

Earlier that day a "tipsy' (drunk) man had told one of the local constables of the planned attack, and so the Sergeant just armed his men, bolted the only door, and shuttered the barred windows. A sledge hammer and a ladder were used with a cart-wheel as a battering ram to break in the door when the police refused to surrender. On rushing in the police opened fire and Stephen Ambrose was wounded in the arm - this caused the attackers to withdraw, and though Ambrose urged them to press the attack, the majority felt they could not succeed and dispersed, still firing at the barracks.

The next morning, several pikes, a scythe and a pitch fork were found by the police outside the barracks.

Many of the men went home and were arrested within the next few days. Captain Murray was arrested at Adare. Others escaped arrest, including William Upton, who went into to hiding west of Ardagh and eventually made it to America - he returned home some years later and wrote a book describing the terrible poverty of the landless people and the impoverished small farmers of the area.

Listed in the brief on behalf of the Crown, prepared by William Roche, Solicitor, the following were arrested and charged:

Pat Collins, 27 James Moloney, 18

Michael Connell,21 James Moore, 18

Joseph Connors, Kilscannell, 27

Patrick Murphy, Ardagh, 40

John Conway, Rathreagh, 22

Capt. John Murray, 33

Cornelius Cremin,27, Garrynacoona, Effin

William Nash, 18 William Danaher,28

William Naughton, 21, Reens.

William Duggan, 19 John O'Brien, 50

Joseph Kennedy, 31 John Quin, 18

Michael Liston, 19, Coolybrown.

Daniel Quinlivan, 20, Ardagh.

John Magner, 22, Cahermoyle.

John Reidy, 18. James Mahoney, 18

James Sheahan, 18.

George Massy, 40, Ardagh.

Patrick Ward, 17, Ardagh.

Among those who took part in the attack but who succeeded in avoiding arrest were Robert and Stephen Ambrose of Dunganville, Con Enright of Ballyrobin, John Shaughnessy of Ballincally, Michael Neville of Reens, John Connors of Kilscannell, James Hennessy of Glenville, and Tom Bridgeman.

Those who were arrested were brought before a Special Commission which commenced by adjournment on the 11th June 1867. But after the Kilmallock and Kilteely trials, the Ardagh prisoners were remanded tothe Assizes - no record has been found of their appearance in any court subsequently.


150th Anniversary Journal

A Journal was launched in the summer of 2017 as part of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations. This is a must read for all friends, family and interested parties. Contact us and pick up a copy for only €5. stkieransheritageassociation@gmail.com


St Kieran’s Heritage Association – 150th Anniversary Re-Enactment 2017

150th Anniversary of Fenian Rising - Ardagh Barracks

Ardagh Fenian Rising Commemoration - 2017





Ardagh Fenian Uprising 5th March 1867 - Names Participating

150th Anniversary of Fenian Rising in Co. Limerick

150th Anniversary of Fenian Rising in Ireland

Shared on IrelandXO by: 

St Kieran's Heritage Association.


  • My ancestors are Stephen and Rev. Robert Ambrose (brothers). I'm very proud of their participation in the uprising. Their heroic action should always be remembered. I'm curious about the photo of the cemetery monument. Where exactly was it taken and who does it commemorate? Thanks.

    Tuesday 2nd June 2020 06:43PM
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