Whiskey in the Jar-oh! a scenario for Ireland Part 1

Ireland action from 1691.. Paul Mc's Kirke's Regiment
I wrote this scenario for the Wargamer's Annual several years back and thought it would be nice to serialize it here on the blog. It is quite a long article so will appear in seven parts. Originally the idea was play tested by Joe North and Gavin Tovrea in the US. Joe is a well known Jacobite!
He robbed many rich of their gold and their crown
He outrode the soldiers who hunted him down
Alas, he has boasted, They'll never take me,
Not a swordsman will capture the wild rapparee

Tories? Rapparees? Bandits? Freedom Fighters?
Extract from an old Irish ballad.
Forgive me if I first offer a little explanation about a group of people known collectively to history as the Rapparees. The reason is that the most common response I experience when mentioning them in conversation is a blank look. The word Rapparee apparently derives from the Irish word ropairí, which is the plural of ropaire. A rough translation is ‘one who carries a short pike’. Rapparees were irregulars who operated on the Jacobite side during the struggle between the forces of King James II and King William III in Ireland between 1689 and 1691. The term came to be generally applied to bandits and criminals after the period in question and is pejorative in that context but not in origin.

Current Thomond Bridge at Limerick - the town was the goal for William
Ireland had a long history of such irregular bands dating back before the Confederate Wars of the 1640s. During the Cromwellian campaigns of the 1650’s they caused widespread disruption to the hated anti-Catholic forces from England and made huge tracts of the countryside complete no-go areas for the occupying troops. These bands were ruthlessly hunted down, imprisoned, transported or executed. In this earlier period they were known as Tories, from yet another Irish word tóraidhe which translates roughly as ‘pursuer’. This is thought to be the origin of the political term Tory meaning traditionalist which has survived into modern times although the connection to me at least, is not immediately obvious!

From the castle museum at Athlone
The ‘tory’ label was applied during the early days of the conflict between the Houses of Stuart and Orange to Irish Catholics who supported King James. It was another way of calling them bandits or rebels and harked back to the previous generation and the activities of the anti- Cromwell factions. The term was superseded by Jacobite from the Latin Jacobus for James. When James’s man on the spot Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell made the call to arms there were more volunteers than weapons. This meant some loyal regiments formed to fight the foreign invaders were disbanded. It is from these units that the bulk of the Rapparee bands are thought to have coalesced. The Rapparees were it seems a mixed blessing. They proved to be a persistent thorn in the side of William’s forces and tied down significant numbers of troops needed to guard supplies, trains and locations. At the same time, several groups began to menace the population in general. They were somewhat indiscriminate in their choice of victim and probably recognized a straight criminal opportunity which could be explained away if they were caught by their own side. This meant the Catholic population also began to suffer at the hands of these loyal men of King James. 

Re enactors in 1690s dress taken in 2015

Their modus operandi was somewhat similar to that of any partisan outfit during  a foreign occupation. Hidden weapons caches (in the case of the Rapparees the location was often assumed to be in bogs), lightning concentrations of troops, hit and run raids and melting into the general populace was all standard practice. The short pikes favoured by them were cut down military weapons. Their arms were supplemented by captured or stolen muskets and no doubt, swords and sgian dubh. One of the best known but by no means the only notable Rapparee was a fellow by the outstanding moniker of ‘Galloping’ Hogan.