Here at the Independence Museum Kilmurry we have a varied and broad collection that spans the last three centuries. One of the items on display is a cannon ball from the Cromwellian Wars.
Kilmurry and Cork were very much affected by the Confederate Wars of the 1640’s in Ireland. There were two incidents in particular on both sides of what is now Kilmurry Parish.
The grotto in Kilmurry village was chosen as it is the site of Sceach an tSagairt which means The Priest’s Bush. Tradition has it that a number of priests or monks attached to the medieval church in the old graveyard went on the run during penal times. They hid out on Cnoc an Tobair but were captured there and were hanged from a tree on this particular site.Tradition also states that some of Cromwell’s troops stabled their horses in the medieval church in the old graveyard in Kilmurry
At the far edge of Kilmurry parish is Carrigadrohid and this village was to play its part in one of the most shocking incidents in the Confederate Wars- the hanging of Bishop Boetius MacEgan.
In February 1646 Boetius MacEgan was appointed chaplain-general to Owen Roe O’Neill’s army of Ulster. Before the battle of Benburb in Tyrone on 5 June 1646 MacEgan invoked the apostolic blessing on the troops and gave them a plenary indulgence. Owen Roe had given careful thought to his choice of terrain. Skirmishing continued all day. Then towards sunset the general spoke some rousing words to his troops, invoked the Holy Trinity and gave them ‘Sancta Maria’ for their battle cry. He then ordered them to charge. The Anglo-Scot army was wiped out. Irish losses were negligible. On Sunday 14 June Boetius MacEgan deposited over thirty captured battle flags in the cathedral in Limerick in the presence of the papal nuncio Archbishop Rinuccini, several bishops and members of the supreme council of the Confederation of Kilkenny. Some of the flags were sent to Kilkenny and other towns in confederate hands. Some were sent to Pope Innocent X who put them on display in St. Peter’s.
On 25th March 1648, Boetius Mac Egan was consecrated Bishop of Ross. During his short episcopate he was deeply involved with the affairs of the confederation and was very highly regarded. In March 1649 the nuncio left Ireland for good. On the 15th of August Oliver Cromwell landed at Ringsend. Owen Roe O’Neill, the only man who might have been successful against him died at Cloughoughter castle. The Bishop of Ross played an important part in rallying the country against the enemy, to little avail. The Confederation fell to pieces. Kilkenny, the capital, surrendered on 28 March, 1650. Bishop MacEgan helped to raise an army in Kerry and on the 10th of May Bishop MacEgan was with this army who was commanded by Colonel David Roche near Macroom. On that day they were defeated by the local Cromwellian commander, Lord Broghill. The Bishop of Ross was captured and led by his captors before Carrigadrohid Castle, a strategic post still in Confederate hands. He was ordered, under threat of death, to order the garrison to surrender. He urged them to resist to the last. He was then hanged with his own reins. Six young men, two O’Riordans from Currach an Iarla, two Dinans from Killinardrish, and two O’Learys from Cul Allta spirited the bishop’s body from the English camp along the southern bank of the Lee. He was buried in Aghinagh graveyard.