Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Battle Of Glenmalure

The wild and beautiful valley of Glenmalure is today a centre for hill walking, canoeing, and all things outdoors, but it's also steeped in history.

The Battle of Glenmalure took place here in 1580 during the Desmond Rebellions. An Irish Catholic force of some 600 men made up of the Gaelic clans from the Wicklow Mountains led by Fiach MacHugh O'Byrne and James Eustace, Viscount Baltinglas, defeated an English army under Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton, at the O'Byrne's mountain stronghold in Glenmalure. Grey led his force of 3,000 men, mostly inexperienced recruits, into the valley and when attempting to scale the northern slopes of the valley, were ambushed by the rebels who were hidden in the undergrowth on both sides and in front.  The English recruits were overwhelmed by the ferocity of the rebels' attack and their eventual retreat resulted in the massacre of almost 800 of Grey's men.

Commemorating the battle, the folk song 'Follow Me Up To Carlow', particularly notable as one of the most graphically violent of all Irish folk songs, was performed by, amongst many others, the folk band Planxty.

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