Journal Volume 5 2006

Derrylossary Churchyard and 1798 Monument (continued/2)

Other members of the extended Barton-Childers family are also buried in Derrylossary. A testimonial to the democracy of death, as much a token of esteem and the inherent dignity of the Childers family, is a memorial stone in the Barton - Childers plot to:

‘Thomas Strickland, for 22 years faithful butler to the Childers family’

Many have remarked on the humility of an Irish President buried only twenty feet from his butler.

Declining congregations over the last half-century reduced the numbers attending Derrylossary Church from 300 in its hay-day during the 1870's to a few dozen by the 1950's. In a rationalisation of the Church of Ireland parishes about 50 years ago the building was deconsecrated and left as a planned ruin on the landscape.

Childers Grave(Poer Coll)

1798 Monument to Andrew Thomas at Castle Kevin Bridge

Andrew Thomas was reputed to be a servant to Mr Hugo of Drumeen House, an implacable loyalist during the 1798 period. Hugo suspected his employee's United Irish sympathise and threatened to imprison him if a rebellion broke out. In 1798 Thomas indeed joined the rebels. He is supposed to have departed from his employer while Hugo was swimming in Lough Dan. Taking advantage of Hugo's undress and his clothes not immediately at hand, Thomas stole Hugo's gun and legged it. Thereafter he became an active guerrilla fighter in Wexford and Wicklow.

Andrew Thomas was closely identified with the Wicklow rebel Michael Dwyer and was accounted part of his fighting group. At one stage he had a £50 reward posted on his head Dead or Alive. Among his many exploits Thomas made an attempt to shoot Hugo as he was being driven in his coach along the avenue of Drumeen House. The assassination almost succeeded. The lead musket ball passed through the carriage windows showering Hugo with debris.

Thomas remained at large for two years after the Rebellion was officially over. In December 1800 he and a companion, John Harmon, were hiding in a hollowed out rick of turf at Castle Kevin when a party of yeomen surrounded them. The men escaped the initial encounter but Thomas was later spotted making slow passage across the bog just below Castle Kevin Bridge and was assaulted by a mounted yeoman named John Manly who struck him with a pistol butt. Although injured he still managed to elude capture until a second yeoman named Mark Weekes, son of the Rector of Annamoe Ambrose Weekes, shot him in the leg with a musket ball. Thereafter he was slain by several others in a melee of stabbings, slashing and shooting.

The unfortunate rebel's body was later brought to Rathdrum where his mangled corpse was hanged, his head been spiked on the gable as a warning to others.


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