A FUNDRAISING drive is underway in Ballinhassig to cover the cost of an historic shillelagh which was used in fight that claimed the life of 11 people.
The shillelagh was used in the infamous Ballinhassig faction fight of 1845 and was recently purchased by the local Village Association at auction for €5,100.
It went under the hammer at Foinse Mealy auction rooms in Castlecomer Kilkenny where it was described in the catalogue as ‘an important 19th century Irish shillelagh.’ It has an engraved plaque which reads: ‘Retrieved after fair day massacre Ballinhassig 30 June ‘45.’
The Ballinhassig Village Association made sure the historic item would make its way back to the banks of the Owenbue and after a strenuous bidding process they secured the rare piece of village history for €6,200 in total including fees.
The group are now fundraising to cover the cost and they intend to display the faction fighting weapon in the village and keep it there for future generations to see a part of important local history. The Ballinhassig Village Association, which is a small voluntary group, is asking for donations which can be made through a GoFundMe page they have set up on their Facebook page.
The Ballinhassig Faction Fight of June 30th 1845 may be a faded piece of history for many in Cork but at the time it made national headlines and caused consternation in the houses of parliament in Westminster.
On that Summer’s day in 1845 a fight had been arranged to take place on the fair green between Ballygarvan and Ballinhassig factions. In those days organised fights between rival villages or even rival families were common place in rural Ireland and often resulted in all out riots. The authorities knew of the impending faction fight at Ballinhassig and the RIC were drafted into the village in large numbers.
Hundreds of people had gathered on the fair green and as the two factions arrived for a showdown the RIC moved in. Constables grabbed the leader of the Ballinhassig faction ‘Ranter’ O’Sullivan and dragged him into the nearby dispensary.
Crowds started throwing stones at the dispensary and the RIC responded with bullets. By the end of that day 11 lifeless bodies lay scattered across Ballinhassig village.
An inquest was held a month later where the jury returned a verdict of “justifiable homicide.”
In 1995 a plaque was unveiled on the wall of the village shop to commemorate those who lost their lives in Ballinhassig on that Summers day in 1845 - Jer Coughlan of Skehanagh, John Hourihan, John Walsh, Maurice Corcoran of Adamstown, Tom Delea, Charles McCarthy of Ballyheada, Con Forde from Ballynavohee, Patrick Sullivan, John Desmond of Adamstown, Tim Kerigan of Ballydonaghy and Julia O’Callaghan from Farlistown.