The Bronze 12-Pounder Gun

By

Maj. Gen. P. F. Nowlan (Retd)

The Bronze 12-pounder gun in the military exhibitions was one of a consignment of thirty-six guns, 6-pounders and 12-pounders, received by the Royal Irish Artillery Regiment in 1796. This regiment, established in 1756, had its headquarters in Chapelizod, Dublin from 1760 until its amalgamation with the Royal Artillery regiment, Woolwich, London, on passing of the Act of Union in 1801. The inscription on this 12-pounder gun include, the maker’s name, Francis Kinman, London, date of manufacture, 1794, the Irish harp with the Royal Irish Artillery motto, and the motto of the Marquess of Drogheda, the Master General of Ordnance in Ireland at that time.

The 12-pounder gun on display in the Soldiers & Chiefs Exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, Dublin.

This regiment was engaged in a number of actions in the 1798 Rebellion. In some incidents its guns were captured and used against the Crown forces. The French, commanded by General Humbert, captured a number of 6-pounder guns at Castlebar on 27th August 1798. Later, at Ballinamuck on 8th September, after the French surrender, a 6-pounder gun directed by Gunner Magee fired the last rounds against the Crown forces. Magee had been a member of the Longford Militia who surrendered at Castlebar. After the defeat at Ballinamuck he was captured and hanged. Magee Barracks, Kildare, was named after him. The barracks is closed, but the memory of Magee and his brave stand at Ballinamuck, in defence of his gun and his comrades, lives on in the tradition of the Artillery Corps.

In 1997 the author made inquiries about the guns of the Royal Irish Artillery. Gunner and historian Adrian Caruna and Dr. St. John Hennessy, both deceased, provided information concerning this 12-pounder gun, which was then in the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich, London. The late General Sir Martin Farndale KCB, Chairman of the Royal Artillery Museums CLG., Brigadier Ken Timbers and Major Ron Lovat, gave a positive response to the request for the return of the gun to Dublin. The Royal Artillery Historical Trust, Woolwich, London, donated the gun to the Defence Forces in 1998. Brigadier Ken Timbers, Historical Secretary, made the formal presentation to the Minister of Defence, Michael Smith T.D. in Clancy Barracks, Dublin, on 12th November of that year.

The Ordnance Corps of the Defence Forces constructed the carriage and kept the gun in safekeeping until the exhibitions were opened in October 2006