Captain Thomas Ash’s Diary

Diary-Pages-600

“There is not a dog to be seen, they are all killed and eaten”

This is Captain Thomas Ash’s diary “A Circumstantial Journal of the Siege of Londonderry”.  Thomas Ash was born in Killylane, near Eglinton, in 1660, into a family of 24 children. In April 1689, after the death of his wife and two children, he moved to Derry just as the Siege was about to get underway, serving first as a Lieutenant then as Captain.

Ash saw active service during the siege and served gallantly as noted by the poet Aicken in the Londerias: “The Irish pressed our trenches on the strand, Till noble Captain Ash did them withstand”

The original manuscript of his diary lay dormant for over a hundred years but on the Centenary of the Siege, Ash’s grand-daughter was encouraged to publish it. “She therefore submits the following Journal, just as Captain Ash left it to his Son, and that Son has now left it to his Daughter.” 500 copies of the first edition were printed in 1792.

Ash’s ‘Journal’ is a diary in the strictest sense; a day to day account of a great historical event in which he played a part.

On the 27th July Ash wrote: “God knows, we never stood in such need of supply; for now there is not one week’s provisions in the garrison. Of necessity we must surrender the city, and make the best terms we can for ourselves. Next Wednesday is our last, if relief does not arrive before it. This day the cows and horses, sixteen of the first, and twelve of the last, were slaughtered; the blood of the cows was sold at four pence per quart, and that of the horses at two pence … There is not a dog to be seen, they are all killed and eaten.”

The next day’s entry read: “A day to be remembered with thanksgiving by the besieged in Derry as long as they live; for on this day we were delivered from famine and slavery.”

Ash died peacefully in 1737.

St Columb’s Cathedral