Sunday, April 27, 2014

Henry Munro of Lisburn in 1798 - 'the cowardice of midnight assassins'.




'General' Henry Munro was in fact an ordinary linen merchant. He had served for a time in the Volunteers, a locally-raised regiment which had been founded in many Ulster towns at the time in the event of a French invasion. He found himself made 'General' of the Co Down United Irishmen, but after they were defeated he was arrested and executed outside his own house at Lisburn Market House. He was hanged and then beheaded, with his head displayed on a spike. It remained there until a Scottish regiment came to Lisburn  - tradition says that this was the Scottish Fencibles, led by John Campbell the 1st Marquess of Breadalbane, near Pitlochry. Campbell had the head taken down and buried with the rest of his remains in an unmarked plot in the graveyard of Lisburn Cathedral, saying 'it was a bad way to conciliate the people', and that it was 'taken down to gratify the Scotch soldiers, as Munro was of Scotch descent'.

Some days before the Battle of Ballynahinch, Munro is also reported to have said:  "If we are to fight, let us take the field like men, and do battle with all our might, but a national cause must not be stained by the cowardice of midnight assassins."

His words resonate to our generation.

Read the full account here.

 (image from this site)