Ireland Old News

The Times
London, Middlesex, England
Feb 9, 1820


     We (Freeman's Journal) have been furnished with the following very interesting account of the state of this country, by a correspondent, upon whose veracity and information we can implicitly rely: - " The Ribandmen [ Ribbonmen] here are becoming more active and numerous every day. What their object exactly is we have not been able to learn, nor do we believe that it is known to the generality of themselves. We rather apprehend that it is confided but to a few of their leaders. They go about in considerable bodies. When they come to a house, the person acting as leader or captain knocks at the door, and calls out in English and with an English, or as some say, a northern accent, 'Come forth man of the house;' upon which the owner of the house and every other male inhabitant, is immediately obliged to present himself at the door. If there by an delay or the least resistance, they instantly proceed to enforce their commands, by breaking the door. They first oblige him to swear he does not know any of those persons by whom he is surrounded; this he may, in most instances safely do; for he only sees the few immediately near him, who are usually strangers, those persons whom he might probably recognize being kept in the rear. He is next obliged to swear he will not prosecute; and, lastly, that he will go to Ballinafad upon such night as shall be appointed for the purpose; and he is severely threatened, should he fail in obeying this mandate. So far they do no mischief, provided no resistance be offered; and none of those who are so sworn hesitate in disclosing what has occurred, or in describing the nature of their oaths. But from the moment they have been at Ballinafad, (which does not mean any particular place, but merely signifies the field or hill, or other spot, appointed as their rendezvous for that night,) they are no longer communicative. It is supposed they take other oaths there, but of what nature has not transpired. We understand each man is obliged to pay ten-pence into the public fund, and those who are sworn there upon one night, become thenceforward instruments themselves, and shortly afterwards proceed to swear the inhabitants of other districts.
     "The unfortunate peasants manifested the greatest abhorrence on being sworn by those misguided creatures, and they have recourse to every stratagem they can devise to avoid it. Numbers sleep out behind hedges, or remain in bogs all night in the hope of escaping the fatal oaths. But when once they are sworn, such is the reverence with which a Connaught peasant regards an oath, and such his scrupulous adherence to it, that he dares not violate it, even when he is told that such at. oath, from its nature and the circumstances under which it has been imposed, it not obligatory upon him; and, indeed, even though this were not the case, any violation of it, in the present instance, would be attended with, perhaps, the most fatal consequences.  Under such circumstances we cannot help thinking the most immediate and active measures should be adopted in detecting those ringleaders who are so industriously, so daringly, and so systematically disseminating pernicious principles amongst an artless, peaceable, and inoffensive peasantry."

Submitted by cml


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