Monday 19th June marks the 225th anniversary of “The Battle of the Big Cross”, which took place just north of Shannonvale, on what was then the main road from Clonakilty to Bandon when local United Irishmen, led by Tadhg Ó Donnabháin Asna, ambushed a group of Westmeath Militia Crown Forces who were marching to Bandon in 1798.
To mark this important anniversary, a weeklong programme of historical, non-political events has been organised by a sub-committee of Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage.
They wish to emphasise that descendants of participants in the battle or relatives of people associated with it (eg blacksmiths who forged pikes), as well as people who were involved or attended the bicentenary events of 25 years ago (1998), are especially welcome at all events (as are members of the general public).
People are also encouraged to dress up as “Croppies” at the events and bring along (replica!) pikes, and carry the bicentenary flags of 25 years ago, to add to the occasions.
(In 1998, around 100 of the special flags were made and people flew them in their gardens, out windows, etc. This is encouraged again during this commemorative week – especially at/near sites where events will take place).
A dedicated Facebook page - www.facebook.com/BigCross225, has been set up, and has all details and will be updated daily. The programme is now finalised as follows:
Monday 19th June 8pm (actual date of anniversary) - usual wreath laying commemoration at Asna Square by Mayor of Clonakilty, Mr. Chris Hinchy. Followed by wreath laying at nearby Old Town Hall/Markethouse, McCurtain Hill (where United Irishmen bodies were dumped after the battle).
Tuesday 20th 8pm - Wreath-laying at Desmond's Ballymacowen Forge site, followed by wreath laying at Tadhg an Asna's homestead, Lackanalooha. Followed by a talk on the battle and related items by Tim Crowley at the Michael Collins Centre. (All locations close to each other).
Wednesday 21st 8pm - assemble at Phair’s car park, Shannonvale village; march to nearby Big Cross Monument itself for wreath-laying ceremony. March back to Phair’s of Shannonvale for informal social night
Thursday 22nd 8pm - Wreath laying at plaque at The Pike Bar, Lisavaird. (in memory of Santry blacksmiths who made pikes for the battle)
Friday 23rd 8pm - Wreath laying at Croppy Quay plaque, Clonakilty, followed at 9pm by Oíche Cheoil at An Teach Beag with emphasis on songs of 1798. Launch of CD and Internet format of the Darrara 1798 Song Contest cassette tape compiled in 1998. Original singers who wrote and performed songs in the contest will be present to sing their original songs again on the night - 25 years later!
Sunday 25th 8pm - Procession/parade from public road at Ballintemple to Tadhg an Asna's grave for wreath laying at Ballintemple Cemetery, followed by informal social event at Kitty Barry's Pub, in nearby Ring.
As most of the events are outdoors, the programme may be subject to changes in the event of unsuitable weather or other circumstances beyond the organisers control. Check the Facebook page www.facebook.com/BigCross225 for regular updates and confirmation of events.
The organisers also intend to re-publish the 1998 bicentenary journal in advance of Christmas and as well as all the original text and photos, there will also be a couple of new chapters with any new information about the battle, participants in it, etc. as well as some previously unpublished information about Eleanor – Tadhg an Asna’s fiancé, which has come to light in recent years that will be included. An account, including photos of the June 2023 commemorative events will also be included in the updated journal.
If any of you know relatives of people who fought in the battle, the blacksmiths who forged pikes, or anyone who would be interested in some or all of the events of the week, etc. please let them know about the week as I believe they should have pride of place at the events and be given honour of laying wreaths, etc.