“The Battle of Carrickshock”


The Irish are liberated: "They'll pay no more the unjust taxation, Tithes are abolished on Sliav na Mon." The Catholics exult. The battle was bloody and Luther's candle now is fading. We'll banish the oppressors and traitors.


OLochlainn-More: "Our song celebrates a famous victory by the peasants over the 'Peelers' [police] in the Tithe war, 1831-4."

"The event occurred on an isolated road in south Kilkenny in December 1831 when an armed police column clashed with a large crowd, resulting in the deaths of 17 people. Unlike most incidents of this kind, the majority of the victims (13) were constables." (source: _1831: Social Memory and an Irish cause celebre_ by Gary Owens, copyright The Social History Society 2004, pdf available at the Ingenta site) - BS

Starting in 1778 and continuing through the nineteenth century, the British gradually liberalized its policy toward Catholics in Ireland, as it was also doing (more rapidly) in Britain itself. By the 1830s, only two major components were left: Catholics were barred from certain offices, and they were forced to pay the tithe.

The objectionable part of the latter was that the tithes were paid to Protestant priests of the established (Anglican) Church of Ireland.

Starting in 1830 in Kilkenny, many Catholics refused to pay the tithes. What followed wasn't really a war; it was more of a boycott, with people simply withholding their payment. But the British responded by seizing property to pay the tithes. Occasionally this led to scuffles, with this riot and one at Newtownbarry (June 18, 1831) being the biggest and best-known. There were also quite a few casualties at Castlepollard (see the notes to "The Castlepollard Massacre").

In June 1833, the government effectively gave in: It no longer forced payment of the tithe, paying off the Protestant clergy with revenue from other sources. (Unfortunately, for the next third of a century, the source was the Landlords, who raised rents accordingly, making the conflict between landlords and tenants even worse. It wasn't until the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland -- for which see "The Downfall of Heresy" -- that Protestant clergy were entirely cut off from revenue derived from Irish Catholics.)

The Tithe War was famous. Carrickshock, however, wasn't particularly; I checked four histories of Ireland without finding an index reference.

And, of course, Anglicans are not Lutherans. They are not even, in formal terms, Protestant; they form one of the three major branches of post-Catholic Christianity (the others being Lutheran/Protestant and Reformed/Presybterian). - RBW

Historical references

  • Dec 14, 1831 - Carrickshock, County Kilkenny: Peasants attack tithe process servers, killing at least 13 (source: Zimmermann)

Cross references


  1. OLochlainn-More 91, "The Battle of Carrickshock" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #9772
  3. BI, OLcM091


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1965 (OLochlainn-More)