Sites of 1916: Ashbourne
By Dr John Gibney
Ashbourne in County Meath was the venue for one of the few military actions of the Rising to take place outside Dublin. It was also the most successful.
Members of the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Volunteers had assembled near Swords on Easter Monday under the leadership of Thomas Ashe. In order to distract potential military reinforcements from Dublin City, over the next few days they proceeded to attack a number of RIC barracks in north County Dublin. They also attempted to disrupt the rails links into Dublin from the north and west of the country. On Friday 28 April Ashe and his men set out for Batterstown, where they hoped to disrupt the Midlands Great Western rail line into Dublin. En route they passed through Ashbourne, where they attacked another RIC barracks. After 30 minutes the barracks surrendered, but the Volunteers were forced to continue fighting as a large detachment of RIC constables that had arrived in Ashbourne by car. The ensuing gun battle lasted over five hours, and was a rare and notable example of the use of guerilla tactics in the Easter Rising.