Tuesday 26 September 2017 03:33:38 PM

Pikes and Prisoners: 1798 Rebellion Themed Living History At Down County Museum
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Pikes and Prisoners: 1798 Rebellion Themed Living History At Down County Museum

Over the coming bank holiday visitors to Down County Museum will be able to find out more about the United Irishmen’s rebellion in Down in two special living history days.

dn_screenDown County Museum is located in the restored buildings of the old Gaol of Down. The Gaol opened in 1796 and held hundreds of prisoners convicted of a range of offences from highway robbery and treason to pickpocketing, insurance fraud and vagrancy.

During June and July 1798 the Gaol held dozens of  United Irishmen supporters who had been captured after the battles of Saintfield and Ballynahinch. While most  were released in the weeks immediately following the rebellion, others found guilty of being involved faced sentences ranging from flogging and monetary fines, to serving in the army abroad for life.

Those charged with having a command in the rebel army or forcing others to ‘turn out’ faced court martial and possible execution. Among those executed at the Gaol in June and July were James Cord of Killinchy, James McCann of Killinchy, John Skelly of Creevytenant near Ballynahinch, and Thomas Coulter of Lecale.

The living history presentations will focus on the experiences of some of those involved in the rebellion and its aftermath. Characters brought to life will range from James Cord who was accused of having a command in the rebel army and instigating the people of Killinchy to rise, to Jane Montgomery a loyalist falsely accused of crime which led to her incarceration. As well as those soldiers involved in organising and officiating at court martials and the gaolers and servants who were sometimes called as witnesses.

Visitors can hear the stories of these people and also see part of a re-enacted court martial. In addition, there will be interactive activities for families to participate in.

The living history presentations will take place between 1.30pm and 4.30pm on Sunday 25 and Monday 26 May and are free to attend.