Redmond O'Hanlon was born
around 1640 in village of Poyntzpass in County Armagh, he was the
son of Loughlin O'Hanlon who was the ruler of much of County Armagh,
and rightful heir to the castle at Tandragee.
As a young man Redmond he worked as a foot
boy to Sir George Acheson who was of Scottish plantation stock,
he has a large estate at Markethill.
Although seen as a highwayman Redmond was
educated in England and had received his military training in France.
He returned with excellent manners and could speak fluent French,
Irish and English. Dashing and debonair, it was said that in the
matter of presence, only the Viceroy’s son could rival him.
O’Hanlon was also a born mimic. He could impersonate an English
captain, a merchant, a French traveller, or an Irish farmer, this
gift he is said to have used many times to evade capture.
Redmond became fiercely anti-British, he
spent several years in exile with the French army and tried to organise
a French invasion of Ireland to depose the British.
Failing to elicit support from France O'Hanlon
returned to Armagh and began his career as a highwayman, preying
on the English and Scottish settlers extorting protection money
A letter of the times relates that his income
was estimated to exceed that of the government taxation of the area.
He was popular with the mainly Catholic peasantry.
In 1674 the government put a price on his
head with posters advertising for his capture, dead or alive. on
April 25, 1681 Count Redmond O'Hanlon was murdered in his sleep
at Eight Mile Bridge near Hilltown by his foster brother Art MacCall
O'Hanlon. For this treaturous act Art O'Hanlon received £200
paid by the Duke of Ormond, he also received a pardon. A member
of the milita William Lucas who had recruited Art O'Hanlon received
a Lieutenant's commission in the British Army.
Redmond O'Hanlon's heas was placed on a spile
over Downpatrick jail, his remains are thought to have been taken
to Conwal Parish Church in Letterkenny County Donegal, where his
parents had fled from the plantation forces.
O'Hanlon is remembered in folk songs and
ballad which survive to this day, the writer William Carleton wrote
a novel loosly based on his career.