Letter to Committee for Irish Affairs

Letter from an anonymous source to the Committee for Irish Affairs, ‘A Relation of the present condition of the North of Ireland’, 10 April 1689. [1]

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‘The number of the Protestants in the North of Ireland were esteemed not much less than 100,000 men, some whereof have left the kingdom, others have taken protections; but generally ill-armed, want ammunition, and have no money; so that they who are forced from their inhabitations are in a very necessitous condition, and are thronged into a small corner of the country near Londonderry, where (without the walls) there is little safety, and within the room for above 3,000 men at most, and are become a burden to the inhabitants of that part of the country.  There are three other little places, which when I came away, were in Protestants’ hands, vizt, Coleraine, Sligo and Inniskillen, but were judged not tenable, and that they would retreat towards Derry in a few days.  The Irish army had been four days before Coleraine, when I cam away, under the command of Lieut.-Gen. Hamilton.  The place is of on strength more than a rampart newly made affords it, but has the conveniency of a great river, and a bridge to retreat over, when they can defend it no longer.  If they are not prevented by another army on Derry side of the water, their retreat will be easy.  Where the Irish army goes, they invite the county to take their protections, which many of the people in the counties of Down and Antrim have done, most of their chief gentlemen and officers having left them and come into England, Scotland and the Isle of Man.  It is likewise to be feared in a short time many more will take their protections, it not soon encourage by a very considerable supply of men, arms and money, the last whereof is so wanting, that those gentlemen that have raised men cannot keep they together for want of subsistence, nor get intelligence of the enemies’ motions, strength, or designs.  Neither have any of the gentlemen of the counties of Londonderry, Donegal, Tyrone, or Fermanagh received Commissions, which are the only counties in Kingdom not overrun by the Irish, and that now bear arms for their Majesties and Protestant religions, except some few that are retired there, under the command of Lord Blayney, Sir Arthur Rawdon, Col. Francis Hamilton, Sir Nicholas Atchison, and Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Johnston.  Londonderry, we are in hopes, may hold out some time, the Governor, Colonel Lundy, being very much esteemed, not only for his forwardness in their Majesties’ service, but for his military knowledge and courage, and his extraordinary care and vigilance.  But there is a present want of money and engineers to repair and better fortify the fort of Culmore, which is of very great importance to that city, lying so upon the river that it obstructs the passage of shipping, which I doubt by this is the only way of relief they can expect.  It will be very necessary to have a yacht or some other small ship of force to attend that place and convey other vessels back and forward, the Irish having set out from Carrickfergus some small vessels to intercept Protestants in their passage to Scotland and Ireland.  It is believed Tyrconnel has in arms near 70,000 men, horse and foot, the Protestants’ arms and horses, which he has lately taken, helping to make up that number’.

[1] HMC House of Lords, 1689-1690, pp. 178-179.