Siege of Drogheda (1641)

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Siege of Drogheda (1641)
Part of the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and
Irish Confederate Wars
Date December 1641–March 1642

Royalist victory

  • Siege broken by English reinforcements.
Irish rebels Royalists
Commanders and leaders
Féilim Ó Néill Col. Tichborne
Col. Charles Moore
6,000 2,000, later reinforced
Casualties and losses
unknown unknown

The first Siege of Drogheda took place in 1641-42, during the Irish Rebellion of 1641. A Catholic force under Féilim Ó Néill (a.k.a. Phelim O'Neill) laid siege to the town and assaulted it twice but failed to take it. The siege was broken by English troops sent from Dublin.

O'Neill's force arrives

After their victory over government troops at battle of Julianstown, an Irish rebel force under Phelim O'Neill laid siege to Drogheda in December 1641. The rebels, who were mostly from Ulster and about 6,000 strong, did not have siege artillery (or indeed any artillery) to breach the walls of Drogheda and so blockaded the town, hoping to starve it into surrender. Drogheda was garrisoned by about 2,000 English soldiers under Colonel Tichborne.

Assaults on Drogheda

The rebels tried three assaults on the town. On the first occasion they simply tried to rush the walls. In their second attempt, a small party of 500 men broke into the town at night through dilapidated sections of the walls, with the aim of opening the gates for a storming party of 700 men outside. However, the initial incursion was repulsed in confused fighting and in the morning, the garrison opened the gates to rebels outside, only to take them prisoner once they entered the town. The rebels tried for a final time in March 1642, when a relief of the town was imminent, attacking the walls with scaling ladders, but were again repulsed.

Siege lifted

Shortly afterwards, English reinforcements arrived from Dublin, under Colonel Moore, who was later created the Earl of Drogheda. They broke the rebel siege and also drove them out of Dundalk and back into Ulster.

A second, more famous siege took place in 1649, when Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army took the town and massacred its by then Royalist and Catholic garrison. See Siege of Drogheda.


Further reading

  • D'Alton, John (1844), The history of Drogheda with its environs (two volumes), 2, Dublin: John D'Alton, pp. 221–256
  • Nicholas, Bernard (1736) [25 May 1642], The whole proceedings of the siege of Drogheda: To which is added, A true account of the siege of London-Derry, S. Hyde

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