Drummer’s Well

Drummerswell Narraghmore Co Kildare

Drummerswell Narraghmore Co Kildare

Nothing can match travelling bike; you get a great feel for an area and you get to see the little details that are never visible by car.

Cycling towards Narraghmore recently I spotted a memorial stone on the long straight up the hill, just after the athletic club. At first I thought it was a headstone for another tragic road accident but it wasn’t and the story posted on a board close by recounted a most interesting tale. I have reproduced below the detail on the board.

The Drummer’s Well, in Lipstown is of historic importance. It is situated by the side of the road near Lipstown House and has been unused for a long time, its history is not well known. Local historian Willie Kelly, late of Inchiquire previously recalled the history surrounding the Drummer’s Well.

The story surrounds the heroism of a 14 year old boy who sacrificed his life in the cause of ‘Irish Freedom’. The boy was the only son of an Englishman and an Irishwoman, and the family lived in England. He was scarcely more than an infant when his father, a sailor, was drowned at sea. As he grew up he listened avidly to his Mother as she told him of the trials and sufferings of the people of her native homeland under English rule. His Mother had been actively engaged in the Irish struggle in the West of Ireland before her marriage, but she had to flee the country to escape arrest and punishment. He heard stories from her about the methods used by the United Irishmen to send out messages to each other. One of the methods was by ‘Drum Beating’, this could be heard all around the countryside for miles around. At his insistence she bought him a toy drum. When he was eleven years old she taught him the drum beat signals that she herself had given during her active service in Ireland, but she did so only after pledging him to secrecy.

Two years later in 1797, the boy was drafted into the English army, where he was trained as a drummer. The following year the regiment to which he was attached was sent over to Ireland. In the 1798 rebellion he was with a company that was engaged in a battle around the Lipstown area. Greatly out numbered, the United Irishmen were preparing to retreat when the boy learned that the English soldiers were running out of ammunition. Thereupon he sent out this information on his drum. The message was received by the United Irishmen and they attacked fiercely and routed the English soldiers. However, the Captain in charge of the company was familiar with the drum beat signals and interpreted the information that was sent out. He shot the boy and his body was thrown in the ‘Well’. The United Irishmen learned of the boy’s name and home address from documents they found on his body but they did not disclose the information for fear it would be published in the English newspapers and focus attention on the boy’s mother.

Today the boy’s name is unknown in the locality but his memory is enshrined in the name ‘Drummer’s Well’.

Stone marking Drumerswell

Stone marking Drumerswell

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