Rebellion Towns & Villages

General Sir Ralph Dundas, the Chief British Officer in Co. Kildare, commandeered Castlemartin House at Kilcullen as his headquarters during the 1798 Rebellion.


The rebels, defeated by Dundas at Turnpike Hill, amassed themselves on Knockaulin Hill near Kilcullen. Official sources put their number at around 4,000. On Saturday the 26th, the rebels began to negotiate a surrender with General Dundas.

When Dundas replied favourably to the rebels overture for peace, they delivered terms – they would surrender themselves and their arms, and return to their homes, provided the free quarters would end and plundered property was restored. While Dundas may have been favourable to negotiate terms and end hostilities, the government was indignant and sent General Lake, commander-in-chief of the army, to Castlemartin.

By the time Lake arrived on Sunday, Dundas had agreed that the surrender would take place next day, Whit Monday. Patrick O’Kelly was chosen to conduct the surrender on behalf of the rebels and was appointed a Colonel so he could properly treat with General Dundas.

The meeting was cordial but Lake refused any terms, other than the complete surrender of the rebels in the avenue of Castlemartin. O’Kelly said the rebels would only surrender on the hill. Despite Lake’s objections, Dundas climbed Knockaulin.

The presence of Dundas greatly mollified the rebels disappointment at the refusal of terms, and men began to deposit their arms and return home. The subsequent pile of arms was the size of the Royal Exchange, according to O’Kelly, and these were later removed to Castlemartin.