United Irishmen upon Duty

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United Irishmen upon Duty
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James Gillray

United Irishmen upon Duty

London, H. Humphrey 12th. June 1798


Original hand colouring

210 x 280 mm


A night scene with a waning moon. United Irishmen burn and plunder. On the left is the corner of a farm house with flames pouring from a casement window. A ruffian wearing a military coat, tricolour cockade and green branch in his hat, seizes the burly farmer by the neck-cloth and raises a sword to strike; the dripping blade is inscribed 'Liberty', and a mastiff lies dead beside him. Immediately behind, in a doorway, another ruffian seizes a woman round the waist; an infant lies on the ground. A man holding a dagger is disappearing into the house, another comes out with a bundle on his head. Behind are the flames of the burning house. Over the thatched lintel is a dove-cote from which birds are escaping. Three other men hurry off laden with plunder towards a road which leads to a camp flying a tricolour flag inscribed 'Equality'. The nearest (right) holds a sow on his back by the hind legs; her little pigs run after her; a goose hangs from his belt. A bare-legged man with a dagger in his belt pushes a wheelbarrow laden with trunks. In the background other plunderers proceed along the road; a man prods a cow with his spear. The road is crowded with sheep. In the distance is a burning town. A companion print to BMSat 9229 Owing to the arrest of the leaders in Dublin (cf. BMSat 9227) and the lack of timely aid from France, the Rebellion had the character, not of a civil war, but of a fanatical religious and agrarian peasant revolt. In some districts every house belonging to a Protestant was burnt to the ground. The Rebellion broke out on 23 May, on 30 May the rebels entered Wexford, which was reoccupied by the troops on 21 June B M 9228