30th July 1689

30th July 1689

A view of Inch Castle on Lough Swilly, County Donegal. As the Fleet cut through the Boom and relieved Derry, Richards, still based at Inch Island, tried to piece together what was going on from the noises he heard, the things he saw and the rumours he was told.


This was his entry in ‘Richards’ Diary of the Fleet’ for the 30th of July, two days after the relief:  


“Tuesday 30th [July 1689] Early this morning several people came to us from the Irish camp and did assure us, that they saw our ships go up with provisions to Derry quay on Sunday night last past, and that the man of war laid within Culmore, and had battered all the upper part of the wall down, that there is now no shelter for men. They differ in matter of their relations how the ships got up; for some say there went first a boat with a house upon it (which we suppose is the Swallow’s longboat), and came to the Boom, when it stopped, and of a sudden a man (a witch they say) struck three strokes with a hatchet upon the Boom, and cut it asunder, and so passed on; and then the ships followed.


Others say, that the two ships went together, and struck both at once upon the Boom and broke it, and so passed on. The enemies brought down all their cannon against, and two regiments of horse, thinking to take one of the ships, which struck ashore just bye one of their batteries, but did not stay long, it being flowing water. But it seems the ship let the horse come up within a pike’s length of her side, and then shot three cannon at them loaded with partridge shot, which lay several of them on the ground, and the others fled away. The French General was very angry with them for retiring, and used all means he could to make them attack the ship again, and to endeavour to board her; but they did not undertake it.


In the mean time they spared the ship no great shot from their battery. When she got clear, and was almost as high as Pennyburn mill, the Derry people came out in boats and helped to tow the ships in, the wind not blowing as fresh as when they first set sail. Whether they got to the quay this night or the next morning, I can not learn. This news made us very cheerful and merry, which to express we fired all our guns planted against the strand to the number of twenty-one guns, which harmony we believe was not very pleasant to our enemies.


In the evening a deserter came to us. He had been at Castlefin with the Duke of Berwick, and was present when several officers came to his Grace and told him the news, who in a rage flung his hat on the ground and said, “The rogues have broken the siege and we are all undone.” He says also, it was at once resolved to immediately quit the siege, and burn, and waste, all before them; but upon second consideration they have despatched a messenger to the late King James in Dublin, of which they expect an answer. In the mean time, they have sent out orders to all the Catholics to send away all their goods and chattels, and to be ready to march themselves whenever the army moves. It is also resolved to drive all the Protestants away before them, and to lay the country in waste as much as they can.


This night we saw several great fires toward Letterkenny, which we suppose to be some villages set on fire by the enemy. In the dead of night, Capt. Billing with sixty musketeers was set ashore over against Burt Castle there to march about a mile, and surprise a small guard of dragoons, and secure the retreat of several Protestant families to us, and drive all their cattle with them, and whatever shall be found in their way back.”