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The Battle of Keimaneigh Monument. 1998
Anyone passing through the Pass of Keimaneigh between Ballingeary and Kealkil recently will have noticed the new Monument. As you travel West towards Kealkil it stands beside the road in a small cutting to your left as you approach the top of the hill.
This Monument is the joint effort of the Ballingeary Historical Society and the Bantry Historical Society, and the members of both Organisations have been working for several years to bring it to fruition.
We are very indebted to Pat Twomey of Curraglass Townland in Bantry who has provided the land on permanent loan.
The site is particularly relevant in that it lies where the old road parts company from the new road. The new tarmacked road is of course what we now think of as the Bantry Road. It did not exist at the time of the battle in1822, but was built soon after, about 1830, as a result of the battle and the difficulties which the Authorities had in bringing troops up to the Pass. This new road was built by James Barry the notorious landlord from Kilbarry House. You can see the line of the old road rising steeply from you up the hill towards Doughill Mountain on your left. From this point the old road can be traced right the way through to Tooreendubh where it drops down into the valley of the River Lee again.
The Cork County Council team under Gearoid Hayes have cut a crescent shape into the piece of land, and erected the plaque on a large irregular shaped slab of local old red sandstone.
The plaque is inscribed as follows:
"I gcuimhne na bhfear a cailleadh i gCath Cheim an Fhia
in Eanair na bliana 1822.
Mícheál Ó Cathasaigh, Barra Ó Laoire, Amhlaoibh Ó Loinsigh,
(Buachaillí Bána Áitiúla).
Seán mac Gabhann (Fórsaí na nGall).
Crocadh Éamonn Ó Rinn i Márta 1822.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha."
"To commemorate those who died at and after the Battle of Keimaneigh
January 1822. Michael Casey, Barry O'Leary, Auliffe Lynch,
Edward Ring (local Whiteboys)
John Smith (Crown Forces)
May they rest in peace."
It will be seen that the plaque commemorates the three local men who were killed during the battle, together with the English soldier Smith, who was also killed. Another man, Edward Ring was captured, tried at Cork Assizes, condemned to death, and hanged at Deshure with five others from other parts of the County.
Although described as Whiteboys on the plaque, it is more accurate, historically, to call them Rockites, the name they used themselves.
The story of the Battle of Keimaneigh was described in detail in Journal No.1.
Briefly, it was a protest against the Tithe system, High Rents, Eviction at will and the other abuses inflicted on tenant farmers by the Landlords. The young men who gathered above Keimaneigh that January in 1822 in appalling weather, were a small but important part of the general movement throughout the Country to rid us of tyranny, and we should not forget them and their contribution.