Redmond O'Hanlon and the Outlaws of Ulster

In the first half of the seventeenth century, Ireland in effect changed hands, and Redmond O'Hanlon was one of the many dispossessed who made parts of Ireland ungovernable by the outlaw's war he waged. 

At one o’clock on the warm afternoon of April 25th, 1681 country people from County Down in Ireland were gathering for a fair at Eight Mile Bridge near the present site of the village of Hilltown. At a prearranged spot near the fair three men met after coming down separately from hideouts in the nearby Mountains of Mourne. One was William O'Sheel; another Art O'Hanlon; and the third was Art's foster brother, Redmond O'Hanlon, the most sought-after outlaw in seventeenth-century Ulster, a desperate man with a high price of £100 on his head.

The three came to a small cabin by the roadside. O'Sheel stationed himself a little way along the road. Art O'Hanlon stood on guard by the door of the cabin. Redmond went inside to rest. By two o'clock he was sleeping soundly. Grasping the opportunity for which he had been waiting, Art shot his foster-brother in the chest, then fled to fetch help to secure the body.

According to an account of Redmond O'Hanlon's death, published later that year in a Dublin pamphlet, the outlaw chief was still alive when O'Sheel rushed into the cabin. With his dying breath O'Hanlon asked O'Sheel to cut off his head lest it become 'the scoff of his enemies.' The headless body was later taken to Newry, County Down, and publicly displayed for a couple of days under a guard of soldiers. Meanwhile other soldiers found O'Hanlon's head and spiked it over the entrance to Downpatrick jail.

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