Where in Ireland are your Boylan roots?

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Michael Boylan and the Jumping Church

One of the most interesting Boylan stories I found in County Louth was the tale of Michael Boylan of Blakestown, Louth. The son of Peter Boylan, a prominent Catholic farmer, Michael was the leader of the Louth freemen in 1798. The men of Louth, (supposedly 15,000 of them) gathered at his door to be led to Tara for the national uprising. Only Boylan's mother intervened and he would not come out of his house. Leaderless the men returned to their homes and no one from Louth would fight at Tara. Because of his cowardice Boylan was turned in by a man named John Kelly and hung for his role in the rebellion.

A local ballad tells his tale:

I am in close confinement and no hopes of liberty
Condemned to death for treason before his majesty.

In Collon I was taken being on the third of
The Drogheda guards conveyed me to where I met my doom
I lived in expectation that the speaker'd set me free,
But I received my sentence from Dan Kelly's perjury.

Tom Hand he acted as a foe, tho' he favored me that
When in walks Dan Kelly and he swore my life away
He swore I had 10,000 men all at my command
Just ready to assist the French as soon as they
would land.
He swore I was united to support the unuon cause
And the jury cried out Boylan you must die by martial laws

When I heard the dismal verse
Twas in the jail I lay
I scarcely got one moment more than one hour to pray
And with my trembling fingers I took my book in hand
The tears came rolling down my cheeks to the ground where I did stand

I met my honoured father as from the jail I came
Heavens must part with you my dear and loving child
I bowed my tender body and they soon hauled me away
Until I reached the tholsel the place I was to die

I wasn't the least bit daunted till the fatal tree I spied
my sight began to fail me, my book I could not read
For to think I'd be cut down in all my prime
A tender hearted blade

Farewell my loving father its parted we must be
Likewise my loving mother your face I'll never see
Farewell my loving brother and loving sisters too
In the 26 year of my age I take my leave of you

I own was united the same I neer denied
Its in the speakers Cavalry I oftentimes did ride
If I woulf turn traitor I would get my liberty
But I won't be called deceiver I will die on the gallous tree
I always behaved myself the country round can tell
It's true Dan Kelly's perjury has proved my sad death knell
Farewell all friends and neighbors its parted we must be
My name is young Mick Boylan. Good Christians pray for me.

Michael Boylan was eventually layed to rest in the Boylan family plot in the Kildemock Cemetary near its famous Jumping Church. The grave is now covered in moss and difficult to read but old transcriptions of the stone report it says:

Per Santam Crucem Tuam Redemisti Munum
This monument was erected by Peter Boylan of Blakestown for himself and his posterity. Underneath lie interred the mortal remains of his son Michael Boylan who departed this life on the 22nd of June 1798 aged 26 years. Also the remains of Stephen Boylan brother to the above Michael who departed this life on the 20th of August 1801 aged 18 years. R.I.P.

Blakestown is only a few miles from Dromin. John Foster was the landlord for Peter Boylan's land. He was also the speaker referenced in the song who did not save Mick Boylan. Interestingly, a Honorable John Foster was also the landlord for one of my Boylan family's plots in Dromin. There were not many Boylan's in Louth during this period and with such small distance, such similar given names, and a common landlord perhaps Michael Boylan is a distant relative of this Michael Boylen. I dount I'll ever know for sure.

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