Field Trip Group from Kilbrin National School

On a fine Wednesday the children of 4th, 5th and 6th class of St. John the Baptists School, Kilbrin, went on a field trip to the Knocknanuss battlefield as well as sites at Killguilkey, Ballinaultig and Garryduff that were associated with the Battle of Knocknanuss. They were accompanied by the school principle Mr. Sean O'Gorman, their teacher Mrs Marie Duane, Fr. Barry Flynn (CC Kilbrin) and Fr. Con O'Donovan (PP Ballyclough).

The first port of call on the field trip was to the farm of Mr O'Keefe. The 70 or so children assembled in a field on the farm known as the battlements, with a view of Killguilky and Ballinaultig. This was where the Parliament army grouped the night before the battle. Horse and foot soldiers were stationed to the south at Killguilky wood and officers and baggage camped close to where the school children were standing. Fr. Con O'Donovan explained some of the events that led to the Battle of Knocknanuss:

……King Charles I and his Parliament, after many standoffs and threats, got involved in a full scale Civil War. This war spread to Ireland in the 1640s, where it took on a third dimension. As Charles I was Roman Catholic and Parliament was puritan Protestant, Catholics in Ireland, with the encouragement of Rome, supported of the English Monarch. In the summer of 1647 the war was full scale in Munster with the Parliament forces being lead by Lord Inchequin (a descendant of Brian Boru, and the head of the Dalcashin O'Briens). The Royalists were assembled by the Confederation of Kilkenny and Cardinal Runicini assembled the Catholics. The Royalist commander was 25 year old Lord Taffe from Co.Sligo. The Scots Irish regiment was assembled and led by the 7'2" Sir Allistar McDonnald.

Knocknanuss Memorial at Abraham's Cross
The group then proceeded to Knocknanuss Hill where Fr. O'Donovan continued.

…….On the morning of the battle the Parliament army marched out to Ballynoe via Kilbrin and set up their command post in what is now Nash's farm. The Royalists marched out from Kanturk castle to the northeastern area of the Knocknanuss plateau where they set up their command post. Fr O'Donovan pointed out that Bishop McEgan, who celebrated mass on the plateau early on the morning of the battle, was born in Ballygraddy and one of the children present, Aoife Egan, was of the same family.

After recounting the first phase of the battle, the group then went on to Castlemagner Hall for lunch. Immediately afterwards, the group studied the battlesite hoarding erected by the Knocknanuss Memorial Committee. Fr. O'Donovan explained how the battle developed.

…….Both sides were successful at opposite sides of the field but Lord Taffe abandoned his post with his horse and foot and retreated to Kanturk. Sir Allistar McDonald took control of the remaining Royalist forces and was forced to surrender at about 5pm.

The next stop was Abraham's cross to look at the fine monument erected by Castlemagner Historical Society to all who fell at Knocknanuss. Fr. O'Donovan gave a short address on the need for such a monument and the work and expense involved it putting it there.

Knocknanuss Plateau
The final journey was to Sherlock's farm at Ballyheen where Mrs. Sherlock made the entire group welcome and her son Eddie led the group to a vantage point where all the northwestern end of the battle filed could be observed. It was here that most of the action took place. Fr. O'Donovan dealt with the closing stages of the battle.

….In the course of the 3-4 hour battle 4500 men were killed making it one of the bloodiest battles of the English Civil War. Sir Allistar was murdered after surrendering and the victorious Inchiquin closed the battlefield. This action resulted in the wounded being denied any medical attention. Many of those lying wounded in the battlefield died that night as a result of the adverse weather conditions, including 6 inches of snowfall. Fr O'Donovan told the children to remember the battle of Knocknanuss and to tell their children and grand children about it. He stressed to never forget the futility of war and to always pursue peaceful ways.

At 3.30pm the children returned to Kilbrin eager to tell their parents and families, and any other person who would care to listen, the history of and lessons learned from the Battle of Knocknanuss.