The Battle of Antrim re-enacted

A scaled re-enactment of the historical Battle of Antrim will be staged in Antrim Castle Gardens on June 4 at 12 noon.

Back in June 1798 virtually the whole of County Antrim was in turmoil as the United Irishmen supported by the Defenders answered Henry Joy Mc Cracken’s proclamation for the United Armies of Ulster to rise.

On June 7, around 9,000 rebels were mobilised and after taking control of various town including Ballymena, Larne and Randaslstown, four columns advanced on Antrim Town.

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This was a key objective in the rebel plan before moving on to join up with the rebels on Down to attack Belfast.

The garrison in Antrim commanded by Major Seddon numbered just around 150 including some cavalry, a company of militia and about 40 armed civilians. Seddon was charged with holding Antrim until re-inforcements could reach the town .

Initially he defended the court house but after the pike work of the rebels had repulsed a cavalry charge by a relief troop of cavalry led by Colonel Lumley and put pressure on the courthouse during which the Lord O’Neill County Magistrate was fatally wounded, Seddon retired behind the Castle Walls where his troops repulsed several attempts to dislodge them .

Confusion reigned in the rebel ranks which resulted in fewer than half of the rebels actually committed to the fighting and the town was ultimately relieved by troops sent from Belfast and Lisburn.

The defeat in Antrim and a similarly confused defeat of the Down rebels in Ballynahinch effectively ended the rebellion in Ulster.

The scaled re-enactment of a skirmish in the battle will be staged in Antrim Castle Gardens on June 4 at 12 noon. It will feature troops with cannon, muskets, and fife and drummers facing rebels armed with muskets and pikes together with their own musical accompaniment.

The rebels will attack troops defending part of the wall of the old castle as part of a noisy and colourful pageant indicative of what actually happened in the battle.

An informative commentary will be carried on throughout the re-enactment and when it is finished the leaders of the combatants, Major Seddon and Henry Joy Mc Cracken will be interviewed and the public can also speak with them and examine weaponry etc.

A larger battle encampment representative of the period will be staged at the fair in the Living History Village at Shanes Castle including an encampment and re-enactment involving cavalry.

Admission to the Castle Gardens re-enactment is FREE and everyone attending will receive a voucher for £5 off the cost of admission to the Game Fair at Shanes Castle.

Parking for the event is in the Town Central Car Park.

The Game Fair’s re-enactments and entertainment programme are supported by TourismNI; Antrim and Newtownabbey Council and the Ulster Scots Agency.”