James Magee / McGee
|Regiment/Unit:||Irish rebel forces of 1798; [Royal Longford Militia]|
|Date of Death:|
|Cause:||Uncertain - killed in the Battle of Ballinamuck|
|Memorial:||Ballinamuck County Longford|
James Magee, nicknamed Gunner McGee, was from Co. Longford; it was believed that he was from the Battery Road area, close to the rugby club in Longford town.
James was a member of the Royal Longford Militia in the 18th century. Magee deserted the Royal Longford Militia at Castlebar and is said to have fought with the rebels at the Battle of Ballinamuck. He, and another gunner called Casey, assisted the Franco-Irish army by acquiring two six-pounder guns and attacking the Crown cavalry. However, they soon ran out of ammunition and used whatever make-shift missiles they could muster, including cast-iron pots and kettles. Eventually the stock on Magee's gun was damaged. It is said that three rebels volunteered to lift the carriage so that the gun could be fired, which killed one
It is uncertain how Magee died, he was likely killed in action, however, Some oral traditions, such as the story from the Schools Folklore Collection attribute the death of Magee, or others, to the notorious Walking Gallows, Lt Heppenstall, however this is but there is no contemporary or even early source that suggests this, and may be a later conflation of stories.
Magee casts a long shadow on the Irish military - he is the figurehead for the Óglaigh na hÉireann (Irish Army) Artillery Corps. In the early-mid 20th century, the (now closed) military barracks in Kildare town was named Magee Barracks in his honour.
More information is available at the Battle of Ballinamuck 1798 Visitor Centre in Ballinamuck;
Story of Gunner Magee, Schools Folklore Collection; The Battle of Ballinamuck 1, Schools Folklore Collection; The Battle of Ballinamuck 2, Schools Folklore Collectionmention in 'Ballinamuck Revisited' by Maureen Murphy (login may be required);