Sack of Balbriggan Commemoration

Sunday September 20, 2020 marks 100 years since the Sack of Balbriggan and despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 restrictions Balbriggan and District Historical Society are determined that this important centenary is marked in an appropriate manner. Our plans announced at the beginning of the year included holding a school’s competition, having a historical seminar and a photographic exhibition and producing a commemorative calendar and medal and we are delighted that all of these plans have gone ahead, albeit some online.  We have been working along with other local groups and Fingal County Council in the Sack of Balbriggan Commemorations Committee to organise a major event for the weekend and while these plans had to be adapted the Council has commissioned a commemorative mural and is producing a commemorative video which will feature some of our events.

Lawless and Gibbons Families: Uppermost in our minds at this time are the families of the people who lost their lives and local families who include the Lawless and Gibbons people– this also extended to the members of the diaspora a lot of whom had firm intentions to be in Balbriggan at this time for the commemoration but whose travel plans were obviously affected by COVID-19. We remember them especially at this time

Church Service: We would like to thank Fr McNamara for facilitating our request for a Mass in memory of those who died during the Sack of Balbriggan and this will take place on Sunday at 12 o’clock. Due to Covid-19 restrictions not many can attend but everyone can join this commemoration by tuning in to the Church broadcast here

Schools Project: Preserving the memory of the events of the Sack of Balbriggan and sharing them with a new generation was one of the principal aims of our commemoration. To this end we gave a presentation on this to local schools and organised a Schools competition based on it. We are delighted that some of the competition entries will be displayed in the Our Balbriggan hub in the town over the weekend.

Jim Walsh Sack of Balbriggan talk on Youtube: We were delighted to share some of Jim’s insights in a Heritage Week talk which is available on our Youtube channel. see link here:

Local historian and founding member of our Society Jim Walsh has been doing extensive research on the Sack of Balbriggan and we were delighted to share some of his insights in a Heritage Week talk which is available on our Youtube channel.The talk begins with an introduction giving the local and historical context and continues with the aid of many images, to give a comprehensive account of the Sack of Balbriggan, based on contemporary accounts, military and RIC archives, newspaper coverage, other publications and interviews with family members. The youtube presentation which has garnered huge interest is interspersed with many images from the time as well as contemporary images from Balbriggan provided by Society Secretary Kilian Harford to give context.

Commemorative Medal: We produced a commemorative calendar featuring images from the Sack of Balbriggan and this was hugely popular. We can now announce that we have taken delivery of a limited number of beautiful commemorative medals which will be available to purchase on . The medal depicts a scene from the Sack of Balbriggan and other symbols which are clearly representative of the town and comes with a booklet containing a short history. We anticipate that this medal will be in huge demand as a memento of this important commemoration, along with the Calendar we produced earlier. Balbriggan and District Historical Society would like to thank most sincerely the Progressive Credit Union Ltd for their very generous sponsorship of our Sack of Balbriggan Commemorative Medal. This sponsorship has been of huge assistance to us in our Commemoration.

Photographic Exhibition Shopfronts: As you are walking around town this weekend keep a look out for our photographs exhibited in some shop windows. These images from the private family collection of Jim Glennon had been restored, digitised and printed, with help from Fingal County Council Community Funding, for a photographic exhibition we had planned in the Bracken Court Hotel, but this is deferred due to Covid-19 restrictions. We exhibited some of the images in Bremore Castle and you will be able to see Brian Howley and May McKeon speaking about them in the Fingal County Council Commemorative video.  You will also notice a dramatic art installation, commemorating the Sack of Balbriggan, covering the gable of the Central Bar by the Bracken River. This mural was commissioned by Fingal County Council Arts Office in partnership with and on behalf of the Sack of Balbriggan Commemorations Committee of which we are part. Check it out as this dramatic mural is gradually created during the week.

Seminar on Sack of Balbriggan: We are delighted to welcome Diarmaid Ferriter as our keynote speaker for our Sack of Balbriggan Seminar on Saturday. While sadly we will not be able to have a live audience, all the seminar talks will be made available on our Youtube channel so you can watch them in the comfort and safety of your home.  The Seminar will also feature a talk by our own Jim Walsh which will focus on the key events of the 20th of September. Jim Glennon former TD and rugby player will give a personal family account of the time. Jim’s grandfather was the owner of the Gladstone Inn and his photographs from the time have formed the basis of our calendar and photographic exhibition. We are delighted to also have visiting speaker Jim Herlihy whose talk will concentrate on the RIC perspective on the events.  Our regular speaker and long term member Frank Whearity will speak about a particular family and also some of the buildings on Clonard Street then and now. A link to all the talks will be made available on our website

Speaking about the Commemoration Brian Howley, Chairperson of Balbriggan & District Historical Society said “The Balbriggan & District Historical Society in conjunction with other local groups and Fingal County Council had comprehensive plans in place for the Commemoration but due to COVID-19 restrictions major public events could not go ahead. However as a Society we were determined to ensure that the centenary of the Sack of Balbriggan still received a fitting, appropriate and meaningful commemoration. We have adapted our plans and our online lectures will bring the commemoration to people in their homes and will be available on into the future as a legacy and a resource for research and education. The Commemorative Medal and Calendar will be fitting mementos of the year and we hope our engagement with the schools will foster a lifelong enthusiasm for history among some of the students.’

Balbriggan and District Historical Society would like to take this opportunity to thank all our members and friends who have supported us down through the years by attending our talks and events. We hope you are keeping well and healthy in these tough times and look forward to when we will be able to see you in person at our events in the future. In the meantime we hope you will be able to enjoy our online content and be sure to get some assistance if you can’t access Youtube! The Society can be contacted at or on our website and we are also on Social media.