Though the Catholic Revolt began in Ulster on 23 October 1641 with the widespread massacre of Protestant settlers in that province, the flames of revolution did not reach Tipperary until December when St. Leger, the Deputy of Munster, marched to Clonmel with a strong military force.

It seems that some time previously some horses, the property of St. Leger's brother-in-law, Mr. Kingsmill of Ballyowen near Cashel, were stolen by 'idle fellows from Eliogarty'. In retaliation St. Leger summarily executed three men suspected of having being implicated in the robbery. However, his thirst for blood and revenge was still not sated, so St. Leger moved to Grange where he hanged three innocent labourers... moving then to Ballymureen where a further six were executed ... on to Galbertstown where six more suffered a similar fate while many homes in the area were put to the torch.

Major Piesley (one of the Crown officers later provided safe haven by Lady Thurles after the siege of Archerstown Castle which was captured by Catholic/Royalist forces under Baron Purcell of Loughmore) lead a punitive troop into Ardmayle which killed seven or eight men and women who happened to be standing at the doors of their cabins as he passed through. Crossing the Suir and continuing on to Clonoulty Piesley, himself, shot a man named Philip Ryan who had foolishly come to his house door to bid the major 'the time of day'.

Though a deputation of Tipperary gentry appealed to St. Leger to curb his officers and men, their petition was contemptuously dismissed. It is not surprising then that these same gentlemen rallied to the standards of Colonel Philip O'Dwyer and Baron Purcell. Retaliation was swift and bloody as the Protestant stronghold of Cashel was sacked and several of its prominent citizens were killed. Among the dead were: Mr. Lindsey, Protestant minister of Ballintemple; Richard Lane; Thomas Carleton; Car, a schoolmaster; Mr Beane, an innkeeper and Francis Bannister, another minister who happened to be on his way to Archerstown when he was savagely cut down.

By now the ranks of the insurgents teemed with Dwyers, Ryans (including Philip McTeige Ryan of Lisnaselly, an ancestor of the Ryans of Inch), Burkes and Butlers.

County Tipperary was well represented when the Catholic Confederation convened in October 1642. Among those present were:

Piers Butler of Cahir, Piers Butler of Bansha, Lord Ikerrin of Lismalin, James Prendergast of Tullaghmelan, Thomas Butler of Kilconnell, Geffrey Fanning of Ballingarry, Geffrey Baron Clonmel. Richard Everard of Fethard, Gerald Fennell of Ballygriffin, Philip O'Dwyer of Dundrum, John O'Ryan of Doon, John Carroll of Lead Castle, Conor Carew of Mobarnan and Philip Kearney of Knockelly

Amongst the Clergy were:

Very Rev. Thomas Walsh, Archbishop of Cashel; Rev. Frs. David Burke and William Connell - Procurators of the Bishop of Emly and Rev. Luke Archer, Abbot of Holycross. Later assemblies were attended by Rev. William Burgat, Vicar-General of Emly; Very Rev. Terence A. O'Brien, Bishop of Emly; John Cantwell, Abbot of Holycross and Rev. James Tobin, Abbot of Kilcooley.

Sadly, the Confederation failed to weld the disparate elements and the outbreak of the English Civil War further splintered the parties. The arrival of Cromwell quickly exposed the weaknesses in the leadership and military competence of the of the Confederate forces.

Upon Cromwell's departure from Ireland all that was left was mopping up. Locally, this fell to Colonel Sankey, the Puritan Governor of Tipperary, who set up headquarters in Clonmel. He, incidentally, was the founder of the former Sankey family of Coolmore, near Fethard.

In his correspondence to England Sankey boasted of his programme of extermination against rebel holdouts from his base in Longford Pass (there is still the remains of a 'Cromwellian Fort' there to this day). Early in 1652 Sankey was busy dispersing the disbanded Irish soldiers and their leaders. Some he sent to Spain (among them being the O'Dwyer force of Kilnamanagh); others he dispatched as slaves to the sugar planters of the West Indies.

The same year he held court in Clonmel and proceeded to rid the area of a number of prominent rebels - Irish and Anglo-Irish - who were charged with complicity in the murders of Englishmen in Cashel, Golden and the Silvermines in 1641; they were:

Colonel Denis O'Dwyer of Dundrum;Colonel Teig O'Maher of Clonakenny; Theobald Butler of Killoskehane; Brian Kearney of Ballybeg; High Ryan of Clonoulty; James Burke of Scart & Ulick Burke of Lismacue - all hanged on a gibbet attached to the courthouse in Cashel. Hanged at Clonmel were: Piers Butler Shanbally, Clogheen; his son, Thomas; James Butler Ruscoe; Thomas Kent, Loughkent and James Butler, Boytonrath. Colonel John O'Kennedy of Dunally; his son, James and four O'Briens of Ara were hanged at Nenagh.

We are all reasonably familiar with the names of those who had their lands confiscated locally, but one family, often overlooked, was the Archer family of Archerstown. In 1640 James Archer held 1283 acres - 75 of bog. The estate was described as having a stone house and bawn, a mill in repair and a castle - out of repair. The estate was bounded on the east by the townlands of Rathmanna, Laharden, Ballyvinane and Ballymoreen; on the south by Moycarkey and Shanbally; on the west and north by the lands of Turtulla and Thurles. Originally Archer's lands were probably the old parish of Rathmanna which embraced the townlands of Rathfernagh - modern Archerstown - Tonagha, Loughbeg, Kyle, Corbally, Drish, Knockroe and Rathmanna. These were added to in the year 1542 (Ormond Deeds, Vol 4, p221) when the Archer family received the parish of Galboola i.e., the townlands of Coolkennedy, Shanacloon, Knockilly and Galboola, from the Earl of Ormond in exchange for lands held in Killenaule.

Dispossessed also were the Butlers of Cabra and Brittas, the Purcells of Rossesstown and Cassestown, Prendergast of Coolgrawn, Headens of Pierstown and Sall of Liscahill.

Archer left for the west (of the Shannon) in June 1657 where he was given an assignment of 750 acres. The castle and 986 acre demesne land of his old estate went to a Cromwellian supporter named Lambert; the south east part of the estate, known as Killuragh and Gobra i.e., Kyle and Corbally (about 300 acres) went to Coote and Reading.

After the abortive rebellion there was the inevitable exodus of defeated Irish and Anglo-Irish ... many of their names can be found in the annual issues of the 'Irish Genealogist'. Many of these became professional soldiers and carved out illustrious careers in the French, Spanish and Austrian armies... effectively fighting for a living not a cause. These forced emigres were responsible for attracting successive generations to follow in their footsteps. Eventually a tradition of careers in the military establishments was formed...and as the years went by the Irish Diaspora became less discriminating as commissions in the British service were as eagerly sought after as those in the the regiments of Britain's enemies.