John Burke; Part (4) The night the Ribbonmen called

The Ribbonmen wore a ribbon in their top buttonhole

The Ribbon-men wore a ribbon in their top buttonhole

John Burke, Emily’s grandfather was lucky to get away with his life, when one night her was captured and held at a secret location. The year of the incident was 1819 and his captures were the Ribbon-men.

At the time Ireland was awash with secret societies, the Ribbon-men were just one of many. They were by definition a Roman Catholic secret society founded in Ireland in the early 1800’s that opposed the landed gentry or the landlord class. They were set up to provide protection for farm workers and the poorer tenant farmers. They were illegal for many reasons especially for the fact that they were oath bound. 

The Catholic Church opposed them and condemned the taking of secret oaths. the societies in turn threatened priest who spoke against them; they also took up issues like increases in baptismal, marriage, and Mass fees. Clergy who increased their fees were issued with threatening letters ordering them to lower their charges. (Pat Feeley)

John Burke was a devout Catholic and comparatively wealthy, making him a prime target for initiation into their society. He upheld his faith but made no secret of the fact however he was in no way opposed the establishment. The Ribbon-men sought him out and took him to their secret meeting place by force.

Sources Feeley/retrieved 04/04/2015 Parliament./retrieved04/04/2015