Fermanagh Gold Introduction

Prionsias Dubh was a gentleman highwayman who flourished in the second half of the 18th century. His headquarters was in the Scraghy hills about half way between Pettigo in County Donegal and Castlederg in County Tyrone. The three counties of Fermanagh, Tyrone and Donegal all meet in this area. He was a man of some degree of culture and frequently mingled with the gentry at the house of Mr. Acheson of Grouse Lodge, near Pettigo who was unlikely to be unaware of the identity of Prionsias Dubh. Here the highwayman picked up tips on the travel arrangements of the gentry so as to select the best possible time to raid their property. The following news item in the Belfast News Letter May 9th 1780 tells of the demise of Black Frank and his gang. There are at least two songs still sung in the locality concerning Frank and his exploits. A recent correspondent Neville Long tells me that a grandson of Jeremiah Acheson (of Grouse Lodge ancestry) became Bishop of Connecticut in the USA and his son was Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under President Truman.

Extract of a letter from Enniskillen, May 2nd.

“This day ended the assizes held here by special commission,at which the following persons were tried and found guilty, upon the clearest evidence, for robbing James Armstrong of Lisgoole, Esq; viz. Francis Mc Cue, alias Francis Dough, the captain of the gang, Richard Monkham, Patrick Corrigan, James Mc Cabe, Alex. Wright and Bryan Mc Alin. These unhappy, yet daring and dangerous men, have received sentence to be executed. The Judges, Baron Hamilton and Justice Lill, in their charges gave the greatest praise to the Enniskillen Volunteers; and indeed they well deserve the praise and warmest thanks of every man in the country, and particularly of those whose property exposed them to the attacks and ravages of the above desperate gang; and by their watchful attention, in now mounting an officer’s guard, they will prevent a possibility of a rescue or escape, until they finish the arduous work they have begun, by seeing the laws of their country fully executed"

Article contributed by John Cunningham May 2001