One Last Effort
Last Charge of Gaelic Ulster
Viewing the long lines of scarlet and gold, the forest of gleaming pikes, the black muzzles of the musketeer guns, many must have quailed, but they did not flee. The O'Cahan forces were drawn up in very good order, and having the advantage of sun and wind. Lieutenant-Colonel Manus McQuy Ballagh O Cahan is said to have muttered, "We are putting an end to a bad affair". At once the O'Cahan guns began a cannonade and the laggan gunners responded in Kind. Manus could barely control the fury of his O'Cahan Clansmen, ' so impatient they were to break their ranks'. With a defiant roar the O'Mullans and the O'Cahans burst from the centre, followed by the Right and Left wings in the stringing rain. The O'Cahan clansmen burst over the field, the first rank of Laggan musketeers firing by platoons, dense rolling volleys flaying the Clansmen, these musketeers retired to the wings of their supporting troops.
The battle fought at Gelvin was the first large-scale action fought by the O'Cahan clan for more than an generation. This renewed martial flowering of the clan was just missed by Donall Geimhleach O'Cahan
, the son of the last chief of the O'Cahan Sept.
Brack of Gelvin
This major clash between English forces and the O'Cahans is described as the "Brack of Gelvin". The position is given as within two and half miles from Dungiven and four and half miles from Limavady. This conflict arose from the overall conflict between the royalists and English parliamentry supports which had spilled into Ulster in 1641. The Ulster stage was to see the irish forces under the command of Sir Phelim O'Neill, verses the scottish forces under General Robert Munro.
An english settler force known as the Laggan forces, raised from British Settlers from East Donegal, and commanded by professional soldiers, Sir William and Sir Robert Stewart, had taken the castle at Strabane. Making a foray into O'Cahan country, near Derry they were joined by four companies from Derry and marched to the new town of Limavady. They recieved more reinforcements from a Captain Thomas Phillips and party, spending the night at BallyCastle they advanced towards Magillan, where they encountered small parties of irish, killing about 300 or so. Marching around the hills of Benevenagh, they came as far as Articlave and having heard of the beseiged town of Coleraine, they marched toward Dungiven and then onto Coleraine.
The O'Cahans at this time where gathering their strengthen to oppose the invaders and the extend of the O'Cahans efforts are listed has:
The Fight Continues
The first O'Cahan assault spend itself upon the van of the Laggan forces, which bring up reinforcements counterattacked the O'Cahans, who at this time where locked in hand to hand combat with the front line of the Laggan forces. Eventually this counterattack forced the O'Cahans to give ground and to flee, with the Laggan forces in pursuit for about two miles, until the ground became too uneven to continue the pursuit.
This Last charge of the O'Cahan Clan was to see the lose of nine of its colours and a large number of cattle falling into the hands of the Laggan Forces and the capture of CastleRoe and a British garrison placed within its walls.
The O'Cahan forces scattered in defeat, soon recovered and joined the forces of Sir Phelim O'Neill, who marched into Donegal to attack the Laggan forces. Despite the losses of the 1641 rebellion , there were still some O'Cahans left to take the irish side. A Roger O'Cahane, of Donegal, appears to have raised a regiment of foot, as well as this, there was in Col. Cormac O'Neill of Kilmacevet's regiment there were:
Captain Thomas O'Kane
Captain Roger O'Kane
Lieut. Bryan O'Kane
Ensign Donaghy O'Kane
Ensign Darby O'Kane