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Ballinhassig Buys €6K Stick

Writes Pauline Murphy

A Shillelagh used in the infamous Ballinhassig faction fight of 1845 recently went under the hammer at Foinse Mealy auction rooms in Kilkenny. Described in the auction catalogue as “an important 19th century Irish shillelagh”, it has an engraved plaque inscribed with the following: “Retrieved after fair day massacre Ballinhassig 30 June ’45.” 

The Ballinhassig Village Association made sure the rare historic item would make its way back to the banks of the Owenabue and after a strenuous and stressful bidding process they secured the rare piece of village history.

Although the estimated price was €400 the hammer came down at €5,100 with total fees making it €6,200. The Ballinhassig Village Association are an active part of life in the village but they are also voluntary and now they are seeking funds to cover the cost of bringing a piece of Ballinhassig’s heritage back to where it belongs. 

194 year old Shillelagh

It is the intention of the Ballinhassig Village Association to display the faction fighting weapon in the village and keep it there for future generations to see an important part of local history. Donations can be made through a Go Fund Me page on the Ballinhassig Village Association Facebook page. 

The Ballinhassig Faction Fight of June 30th 1845 made national headlines at the time 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. The authorities knew of the impending faction fight at Ballinhassig and the Royal Irish Constabulary were drafted into the village in large numbers.

Hundreds of people had gathered on the fair green as the RIC moved in and 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 by shooting at the crowd. 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 Summer’s day in 1845 and now, thanks to the people of Ballinhassig, a scarce item from that dark day will be brought back to the village.

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