Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Ford of the Biscuits, 1594

In 1594 yet another war began between the English and the Irish, this one sometimes called the Nine Years' War. One of the first major actions was an Irish siege of Enniskillen Castle. In August an English force was sent to break the siege and relieve the castle's hard-pressed defenders; since part of their mission was to resupply the castle they were carrying large amounts of provisions. As they tried to cross a ford over the River Arney they were ambushed by an Irish force under the command of Hugh Maguire. The Irish had no guns, only axes and arrows, but the English were not able to get their artillery into the battle and suffered a severe check; according to Irish sources, 400 English soldiers were killed. Carts full of provisions were over turned in the river and lost their contents, because of which the ford has been known ever since as the Ford of the Biscuits (Ath na mBrioscai).

The battle is in the news because metal detectorists have settled an old argument about the battle's location, I turns out that local oral tradition was right and the books wrong; the battle was in a place the locals call Red Meadow. Once again I marvel at the density of local lore in Ireland, a place where every field and meadow has a name, some of them preserving memory of events from centuries ago.


Anonymous said...

Problem is the only evidence is 1 piece of shot that is of a size inconsistent with the firearms deployed, one piece of modern lead and two piece of lead which cannot be definitively identified as shot. Check out the report pp 39-40. They claim the battle is at Reggie Cunningham's land in area 2 but clearly have minimal evidence. They even claim that one flattens bullets to make them armour piercing, really?

a clear case of finding what the locals want you to find regardless of the evidence or lack thereof.

Anonymous said...

Good lord who wrote this? The Irish deployed more firearms than the English and had no axe armed Galloglass. Moreover the English did not have any artillery with them, just 600 foot and 40 odd horse.