This hill outside Glaslough in County Monaghan was the site of a Viking Fort in the 10th century. Here the invaders staged attacks on Old Donagh Church. A significant strategic area for battle, Drumbanagher Hill is most widely remembered as the site of the first battle of the war between James II and William III of England in 1688, the outcome of which would change life in Ireland forever.
The Battle at Drumbanagher Hill in 1688 was waged by John Mc Kenna, a member of the powerful McKenna clan. In fact, when McKenna and his Catholic army were defeated here by Anketell and the Protestants, it signaled the end of the McKenna power in the Glaslough and Emyvale region. McKenna was beheaded during the battle, and his severed head was taken to his wife at their home in Minmurray. It is said that the McKenna fortune was deposited into the lake at Minmurray just prior to the battle, and pieces still wash up occasionally. Some of them can be seen at the National Museum in Dublin, kept under the label “Dawson Collection”.
The scope of the war then widened, and had a monumental impact on Catholics after it ended in 1691 with William III emerging as the victor at Aughrim, Galway. The Penal Laws of 1695 were enacted, forbidding Catholics from bearing arms, and restricting their rights to education and the free practise of their religion. The Penal Laws also placed limits on the amount of property and possessions they were permitted to own. For example, owning a horse worth more than 5 pounds was unlawful.