The inscriptions read Shelelagh Yeomanry; Shelelagh Cavalry Wm Wainright Capn; Shelelagh Infantry; Coolatin Corps Thos Chamney Capn; Tinapely Corps John Revell Capn; Coolkenno Corps John Revell Capn; Carnew Corps Thomas Swan Capn; Presented by the Shelelagh Yeomanry to Brigade Major Randle Myers.
Shelelagh [Shillelagh], Coolatin [Coollattin], Tinapely [Tinahely], Coolkenno and Carnew are Irish villages close to each other in co. Wicklow and co. Wexford. William Wainwright, captain of the Shelelagh Cavalry, was steward in Ireland to William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 4th Earl of Fitzwilliam (1748-1833). The Earl had inherited his immense fortune, Irish estates and steward from his mother's brother Charles, Prime Minister and 2nd Marquess of Rockingham. A correspondence between Wainright and Lord Fitzwilliam exists in the Sheffield archives as Wentworth Woodhouse Muniments WWM/F/82/-WWF/F/134. Some of it, dated 1797 and 1798, the year of the rebellion in Ireland, refers to the Shelelagh Yeomanry, made up of Fitzwilliam tenantry. It reflects Wainwright's concern with the number of Catholics amongst his own Shelelagh Cavalry, and how he hopes they will remain.
The Irish Rebellion had arisen from British suppression of the Society of United Irishmen who, inspired by France and America, hoped to reform the Irish Parliament by 'uniting protestant, catholic and dissenter into a single movement' (Professor Thomas Bartlett, 'The 1798 Irish Rebellion', British History and Sea Power, bbc.co.uk, 2001). In December 1797 Wainwright, writing to the Earl, records no outrages in Shelelagh but himself had a guard to travel to town, 'a fresh way of travelling and a very unpleasant one’. In June 1798 he notes the Shelelagh troop preparing to march to Vinegar Hill, and on 8th July he describes the battle where many were slain, and which effectively brought the rebellion to an end.
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