Wildgoose Lodge

Eight people men and women, including a five month old infant were burned to death on the night of 28th October 1816, in a deliberate arson attack on the Lynch family.

wildgoose-lodgeFourteen years after the murder, a man published an account of the events.

The man’s name was William Carleton from County Tyrone, born in 1794 and had been living in Louth at the time. In 1816 he was a member of a secret society of Irishmen, determined to win back Irish lands at any cost; they called themselves “the Ribbonmen”.

In Carleton’s account he describes the events as they happened.

On a cold winter’s night he is called to secret meeting. Fearing for his life if does not attend and filled with apprehension he makes his way to the appointed meeting spot. Many of the society’s members have also attended fearing retribution.

Upon arrival he notes a group of seven men hiding in the shadows of the church. The leader of the Ribbonmen requires all men in attendance to drink from the whiskey glass as an oath, a commitment to an as yet unknown act.

As soon as the men have given their oath to obey the leader, he invites the unknown men to join. They are recognised by William Carleton as the family members of men who had been convicted months before of house breaking the Lynch family home.

It appears that the motive for the meeting is revenge. The leader instructs the members to march to the Lynch home and about 130 men surround the home, bringing with them, pikes, guns and lit coals.

The house is circled with the coals and  set on fire. After a short time one of the windows break and a woman appears, desperate to escape. According to Carleton her head is ablaze. Her escape attempts are thwarted by the men, who stab at her with their pikes and force her back into the flames.

Another woman comes to a window, she is trying to push an infant out to safety but one of the men impales the child on a pike and throws the poor thing back through the window. The woman is not seen again.


After performing their monstrous crime, the men escaped that night but some time later they were caught and punished by the law.

In total, 18 men were executed for the arson attack on Wildgoose Lodge and the murders of the Lynch family. However, it is said that some of those men had no part in the crime and were innocent.

The leader of the Ribbonmen was arrested in Dublin and was sentenced to death by hanging and his body gibbeted (his body was hanged from a gallows as a warning to other criminals).

(Sources: Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry: Second series, Volume 2 By William Carleton)
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