"A legend has grown up and legendary mists are notoriously
hard to disperse"
(Michael Joseph MacManus, 1944:7)
Catholic emancipation had been granted in 1829 a well known 'party fight' took
place that year at Macken, Fermanagh. The Catholic Emancipation Act became law
in 1829 and allowed Roman Catholics to sit in Parliament and to hold all offices
under the Crown, except those of Lord Chancellor and Viceroy of Ireland. The
Bill of Rights, 1869, still prohibits the British Sovereign from being a Roman
Catholic and from marrying a Roman Catholic. It is helpful in understanding some
of the background to the emotions behind the Macken Fight to take a brief look
at events going off in Ireland around this time between opposing religious
Reformation' of 1827 was a Protestant movement against Catholic emancipation in
Ireland and it had sprung up at the end of 1826 in County Cavan. Apart from
denying them emancipation many Protestants wanted to convert Catholics and -
according to the Reverend N.J. Halpin, a curate in Oldcastle - 450 Catholics
were converted in Cavan and they publicly renounced their faith in various
Protestant churches. The movement obviously caused much friction in the
communities and one side acted as badly as the other - Protestants tried to
force Catholics to conform and Catholics tried to persuade ex-Catholics to
return to Catholicism. The New Reformation movement spread to Fermanagh and Lord
Enniskillen was one of its great supporters. According to one account, he
ordered his Catholic tenants to attend Protestant church services or be evicted
from their land. Three families, the Duffys, the Maguires and the MacManus',
must have refused because they were evicted and settled in the hilly terrain at
Ruscaw. (Livingstone, 1969:160). So, at the time of the Macken Riot there was a
polarisation of the usual religious and political conflict which had been going
on in Ireland for many centuries.
several accounts of the Macken engagement but most, unfortunately, contradict
one another depending upon the particular religious persuasion of the writer.
One of the most balanced accounts appears to be Livingstone (ibid.) from which a
few facts seem clear. In the evening of July 13th, 1829 there was a battle
between Catholics and Protestants at Macken in which four Protestants were
murdered. Nineteen Catholics were later charged for their part in the affair.
One of them, Ignatius McManus, was hanged and most of the remainder, including
Patrick McManus, were transported to Botany Bay, Australia. Ignatius McManus was
from a townland called Corcnacrea in the Montiagh District of Fermanagh. (Glassie,
celebration of the Battle of the Boyne, is normally held on the 12th.of July,
but in 1829 the 'Twelfth'' fell on a Sunday and celebrations were postponed
until Monday, 13th. Earlier that day a group of Orangemen had assembled near
Mullineny. They may have intended to parade, in spite of parades being banned
(Trimble, 1921:1004) but they may also have assembled to quietly celebrate the
`feast'. One Catholic version of the tradition says that they assembled to
attack a local chapel. One Orange version says that they assembled to defend
the local Protestants because of rumour that the Catholics would slaughter them.
The same version says that the Catholics assembled too because of a rumour that
the Protestants were going to slaughter them. Another version says that they
assembled, under Father Ned McHugh, to defend the chapel. From the records there
is evidence to suggest that what probably happened was that the local Orangemen
assembled to celebrate the Battle of the Boyne and local Catholics, flushed by
the victory in winning Catholic emancipation, decided to prevent them. There is
some evidence to show that the Orangemen may have said derogatory things about
the Pope and the Catholic Church. Lord Enniskillen, who lived nearby, and who
was a magistrate and the Grand Master in Ireland of the Orangemen, wanted to
keep the peace. He came to the place and seems to have persuaded both sides to
part peacefully. All was quiet for a time but the actual battle did take place
at Macken the same evening.
version of events says that local Orangemen spent the day in Edward Scarlett's
house celebrating. When night came, two men, called Thompson, were afraid to go
home through Macken and their friends decided to accompany them. As the party
passed through Macken, the Catholics attacked them. Another version says that
the Catholics simply attacked the three Macken Orange Lodges as they made their
way to Mullineny. At any rate, one of the Orangemen, Robert Mealey, a clerk in
the local church, was killed outright and three others, George Price, John
Robinson and Edward Scarlett, received wounds from which they later died.
Francis McBrien and Ignatius MacManus were charged with the murder of Robert
Mealy. It was proved in evidence given by witnesses that McManus had twice
stabbed Mealy with a pitchfork, causing death. One tradition says that a man
called 'Owney the Dummy' came on the wounded bodies of the Protestants and
killed them. (Glassie, 1982:58). None of the Catholics were reported killed and,
unhelpfully, the affair has come down in tradition as a great Catholic victory.
following day, 14th. July, nineteen Catholics, possibly twenty-one, were
arrested for their part in the affair. Their trials were awaited by the
Catholics population with great anxiety. It is clear that panic seized the
Protestant population after the affair. Rumours were abroad of a huge camp of
Ribbonmen on Benaghlin and all magistrates, police and yeomanry were summoned to
duty. In fear, some Protestants fled their homes and sought refuge with their
neighbours. For two of the three days no supplies reached Enniskillen and
Protestant volunteers were organised to defend the town. In the circumstances,
the prisoners feared that they would not get a fair trial and attempts were made
to have the trial held in a different place or at least have it postponed.
Randal Kernan defended some of the prisoners and he drew up a memorial for
Francis McBrien, Ignatius McManus, Bernard Rooney, Thomas Montgomery, Daniel
Murphy, Patrick Carron, Patrick McManus, Patrick Rooney and Arthur McCawley.
This memorial was sent from Enniskillen Jail on March 1st, 1830, to the Lord
Lieutenant - the Duke of Northumberland (Lord Londonderry). They asked that the
trials be postponed because they could not safely proceed due to the effect
produced in the public mind by comments made by Magistrates in the Enniskillen
newspapers of the time - the Erne Packet and the Impartial Reporter.
These reports, they claimed, prejudiced their case. Furthermore, the prisoners
protested that the Orange party had pursue them for a considerable distance to
their homes and it was they who attacked first; that without receiving any
provocation the Orange party, the deceased amongst them, had fired at and
wounded several Catholics; that Ignatius McManus was severely wounded and his
application to William Gabbett, a magistrate, to take his information was
refused; that they could not receive justice unless the Lord Lieutenant
intervened; that the present nominal sub-sheriff, Paul Dane, was only 17 or 18
years of age and that his uncle, Daniel Aughinleck, an attorney, had never
returned a Catholic to serve on a jury in the past four years and that he acted
like a violent Orangeman; that the Magistrates had not taken action against
those who provoked the incident and that some of them had been called as
jurymen. Despite their protests the trial went ahead on March, 17th. 1830 before
Judge Jebb. Daniel O'Connell was supposed to have said 'Judge Jebb will hang
every one of them'. (Livingstone, 1969:163).
of Ignatius McManus lasted from 9am.on March, 19th. until 3am. the following
morning. He was finally found guilty of stabbing Robert Mealy to death. The
Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette of March, 20th. 1830, reported:
At Enniskillen Assizes Francis McBrien and Ignatius McManus,
alias Storey, were indicted for the murder of Robert Mealey at Macken on 12th.
July last. The verdict against McBrien was 'not guilty' and against McManus
'guilty' - sentence of death by hanging was pronounced - to be carried out on
22nd. 1830, the Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette reported:
Ignatius McManus, who was to have been executed this day was
respited (sic) until after the judges leave the county tomorrow. Two Mongomery's
and P. McManus are now on trial for the murder of Scarlett at Maken.
remainder of the prisoners were also sentenced to death but the Lord Lieutenant
intervened and their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment at Botany Bay.
These included the two Montgomery's mentioned above and Patrick McManus. The
reprieve was said to have been brought back from Dublin by Father Ned McHugh,
and had the priest arrived in time Ignatius McManus would have been saved, but
he was executed in front of Enniskillen Goal on March 23rd. 1830. One tradition
(Glassie, 1982:61) has it that Ignatius McManus had a young son who, after
watching his father's execution, failed to grow any more in stature for the rest
of his life.
H. (1982) Irish Folk History.
P. (1969) The Fermanagh Story.
M.J. (1944) Eamon de Valera: A Biography. Longmans: London.
W.C. (1921) History of Enniskillen, Vol. 3.
1834-1835, Macken Revisitied: The King V Daniel McManus
Marcia Turner, New South Wales,
circumstances surrounding the Macken Riot were reported in Heart and Hand,
Number 2, pages 39-41. The facts are that during the evening of July 13th, 1829
there was a battle between Catholics and Protestants at Macken, Co. Fermanagh,
Ireland, in which four Protestants were murdered. Nineteen Catholics were later
charged for their part in the affair. One of them, Ignatius McManus, from a
townland called Corcnacrea in the Montiagh District of Fermanagh, was hanged and
most of the remainder, including Patrick McManus, were transported to Botany
I am the
great grandaughter of James McManus who was the brother of Macken transportee,
Patrick McManus. James, together with his two other brothers, Edward and
Bernard, emigrated to Australia with their families and joined their brother
research of the 1835 Outrage Reports, which are held in the State Paper Office
in Dublin Castle, shows that six years after the initial trial took place the
magistrates were still pursuing those who were suspected of being involved in
the riot but who had not been brought to justice. A very old man, Daniel
McManus, was identified as a suspect. Exactly what evidence there was against
him is unknown, however, a warrant of arrest, issued by the Earl of Enniskillen,
was executed. Details of the papers I have discovered, an affidavit and a letter
from the Attorney General, are as follows:
King against Daniel McManus.
and sevearally Affidavit of William Dunsom, John Armstrong and Robert Elliott,
all of Swanlingbar in the County of Cavan, Police Constables:
These deponents having first been duly sworn on the Holy
Evangelists say that on Sunday the sixth day of July instant these deponents
made a prisoner of Daniel McManus, Under and by virtue of a Warrant Under the
Hand and Seal of the Earl of Enniskillen, Lord Lieutenant of the County of
Fermanagh which said Daniel McManus stands charged with the Murder of Robert
Mealy and several at Macken in this County on the thirteenth day of July in the
year one thousand eight hundred and and twenty nine, and also for stabbing with
a pitchfork on said day year and place one John Glass and these deponents each
for themselves say that upon the arrest of said Daniel McManus a large
collection of County people assembled in number about one hundred and fifty, all
of whom were armed with pitchforks, sticks, stones or other weapons with which
they attacked these Deponents and their Party and in every way in their power
endeavoured to rescue said Daniel McManus and the Deponents further say that
after these Deponents had secured the arrest of said Prisoner he said Daniel
McManus told these Deponents that is the said Daniel had but one hours warning
or intimation of their coming to arrest him as aforesaid, one hundred policemen
would not have succeeded in so doing, and the said Daniel McManus repeatedly in
the firmest and most determined manner declared he would have revenge and Dead
or Alive he would procure the death of the Earl of Enniskillen of Fermanagh and
his son Lord Cole and several other gentlemen in the County of Fermanagh and the
said Daniel McManus also told these Deponents and that without being induced in
any way by these Deponents to do so he was guilty of the crimes so laid to his
charge, and that he would be hanged on account thereof. These Deponents are
therefore convinced if said Daniel McManus be admitted to bail he will not again
abide to attend his Trial.
Dunsom, John Armstrong Robert Elliott. Sworn before me at Enniskillen this 12th
day of July, 1834. William Gabbit. (Note made on page: 'One of McManus's
Bailsmen is not worth ten shillings').
followed a letter from the Attorney General dated 6th. February, 1835 to Lord
I have repeatedly and most anxiously considered this subject.
It will be seen that the murders at Macken took place nearly six years ago. That
21 persons were prosecuted and convicted of that crime; of these one was
executed and 20 transported for life, the Lord Lieutenant being then of opinion
that the ends of justice did not require any further sacrifice of human life.
The very old man, whom it is expected the Crown will prosecute was arrested not
by the order of the Crown or on a Bench Warrant, but on a Magistry Warrant, so
that the Crown has had no part in reviving a prosecution, (which), such,
whatever may be the guilt of the Delinquent, it would be impossible should
terminate in his Execution, after the lives of so many convicted who pleaded
guilty, had been spared by the Duke of Northumberland. Under such circumstances,
can it answer any useful end to prosecute this man with a view to his
transportation, and with the certainty of reviving the bad party feelings with
which this affair is associated? I confess I think not: but too for this reason
I cannot advise the Crown to prosecute. I don't think the relatives of the
deceased should be prevented from doing so, if they think fit.
appears, thereafter, that Daniel McManus was not prosecuted and lived out his
life in Fermanagh.
From Macken to Australia
Frank McManus, New South Wales,
September, 1992, I attended the Clan Gathering in North Roscommon. While I was
there I took the opportunity to pay a visit up to the old homestead of my
forebears in Fermanagh. I had met some good McManus friends at the Gathering and
on that Saturday afternoon we all went off to see Belle Isle. (Journal 1:8).
This was a profoundly emotional visit for me. When you know the history of my
family I think you will understand why.
I am the
great grandson of James McManus, who was the brother of Macken transportee
Patrick McManus. Great grandfather subsequently emigrated to Australia with his
family and joined his brother Patrick. Here are some of the details I have on
the family and their move from Fermanagh to New South Wales.
McManus, born 1806 in Kinawley, Co. Fermanagh, Ireland, was the son of Denis and
Margaret McManus (Nee McGraugh). Patrick married Mary McManus, daughter of
Cornelius McManus and Ellen (Nee Martin) in 1830. Patrick was involved in the
Macken Riot in Fermanagh in 1829 and was arrested and convicted of the murder of
Edward Scarlett. He was sentenced to death but the sentence was reduced to
transportation for life. My understanding is that the riot was caused by
ill-feeling between Protestants and Catholics. Also, the granting of Catholic
Emancipation in 1829, once again, stirred up the people. One man, Robert Mealey
was killed at the time and three others died after the affray. Patrick arrived
in New South Wales on the convict ship 'Hercules' in 1st. November, 1830. A
record (Standing No. Convicts - 31st. October, 1830, 39/353 Reel 1002 - 30-1968)
relating to the arrival of the ship in Sydney, shows the following:
Patrick McManus, Roman Catholic, read, 25 years age, married,
County Fermanagh, Ploughman, shears, reaps, milks, sows. Sentenced to life
Murder, 23rd. March, 1830. No previous convictions. 5ft.10 and threequarters,
dark ruddy freckled complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, small horizontal scar
under and over left eye.
arrival in Australia Patrick was assigned to James Howe of Patrick Plains, later
renamed Singleton, New South Wales. Patrick's wife, Mary, followed him out to
Australia but it is not known when she arrived in Sydney. A second class
conditional pardon was granted to Patrick in 1846 and this meant that he was
free to move around Australia, although not allowed to return to Ireland.
Patrick's three brothers, Edward, Bernard and my great grandfather James,
emigrated with their families to Australia. They arrived in Sydney from Belfast
on board the ship 'Mandarin' with their families on 19th. October, 1838. They
settled in Glennis Creek in the Singleton District of New South Wales, about 15
miles from the town of Singleton, and they named their property 'Belle Isle'
after the name of their ancestral home in Fermanagh.
and Mary had seven children, Ellen;1835, James; 1837, Patrick;1838, John;1840,
Mary Anne;1842, Margaret;1844 and Charles;1845. Later, Patrick McManus Senior
was the Licensee of the Golden Fleece Inn, George Street, Singleton and he is
listed as Licensee during the years from 20th April 1851, 1852, 1853 and 1854.
Although he is not listed as Licensee at the premises in 1855 and 1856, his wife
Mary is recorded as the Licensee in 1857 and 1858. Patrick died in 1856. The
Golden Fleece Inn was renamed the White Horse Inn in 1859 and was taken over by
Patrick Bourke. But by 1860 Patrick's son James became Licensee. On18th. April,
1861 and up until 1862, James was the Licensee of the Queen Victoria Inn,
Camberwell. Mary, Patrick's wife, died in 1862. Patrick and Mary are buried
together in the Catholic Cemetery in Singleton.
grandparents James and Mary Ann had eleven children; Margaret, Patrick, Francis,
Sarah, James, Denis, Mary Anne, Catherine Costelloe, Helen, Michael and Edward.
I have copies of the emigration documents relating to my great grandparent's
arrival in New South Wales. They show that James was a labourer, 24 years old at
the time of his embarkation and that he was identified as 'strong and healthy'
by the medical authorities. Great grandmother, Mary Ann McManus (nee Costelloe)
was recorded as 17 years old, a dressmaker and 'strong and healthy'. The
following information is from the 'Journal of the Legislative Council of New
South Wales, Second Session 1885, Part 1, Appendix 2, Singleton' and refers to
the estate of my great grandfather:
of Post Town Occupier Acreage Horses Cattle Sheep
Isle Glenniss Creek James McManus 400 10 17