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Wexford Bridge in 1798

Drawing of Wexford Bridge from Walk Wexford Ways, page 23.

An account of the massacre as found in Memoirs of the Different Rebellions in Ireland... by Sir Richard Musgrave, 1801, pgs 485 and 486:

"Between the hours of ten and eleven o'clock on the morning of the twentieth of June, we saw a body of rebels coming over the bridge, bearing a black flag, with a cross, and the letters M W S inscribed on it in white; which was supposed to mean murder without sin; and on the other side a red cross. After having made a procession through part of the town, they fixed that woeful harbinger of death on the custom-house quay, near the fatal spot where so much blood was soon after shed; and where it remained flying for about two hours before the butchery began.

Soon after they arrived on the quay, they seemed to disperse, however many of them remained there...where drink was given to them; ...till they left the quay, shouting, "To the gaol! To the gaol!" when they all disappeared, but returned about four o'clock to the bridge, with a number of prisoners, whom they massacred. They thus continued till about seven o'clock to convey parties of prisoners from ten to twenty, from the gaol and the market-house; where many of them were confined, to the bridge, where they butchered them. Every procession was preceded by the black flag, and the prisoners were surrounded by ruthless pikemen, as guards, who often insultingly desired them to bless themselves.

The manner, in general, of putting them to death, was thus: Two rebels pushed their pikes into the breast of the victim, and two into his back; and in that state (writhing with torture) they held him suspended till dead, and then threw him over the bridge into the water.

After they had massacred ninety-seven prisoners in that manner, and before they could proceed further in the business, an express rode up in great haste, and bid them beat to arms, as Vinegar-hill was beset, and reinforcements were wanting. There was immediately a cry, "To camp! To camp!" The rebels seemed in such confusion, that the massacre was discontinued."

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Last updated October 2008