Highwayman, - Shane Crossagh O’ Mullan
Shane “Crossagh O Mullan” roamed the highways
of Derry and Tyrone. Also known as John O’Mullan, his father was a small farmer from Faughanvale who had been evicted from his Farm for
non-payment of rent (A Common practice during the late 1600’s)
The name “Crossagh” means “Pock-Marked” probably referring to an
ancestor who was blemished, as Shane himself had no such problem and was
considered handsome and dashing by the local female population. His father, Donal and brothers were also called Crossagh
and this, as is the practice in Dungiven, may have
been used as a “nickname” to differentiate families with a similar surname thus
distinguishing his family from other O’Mullans.
After a clash
with Soldiers at the old farmstead Shane went on “the run” and for many years
evaded capture. The Robin Hood equivalent for Northern
Ireland, he was an honourable man who
usually robbed the rich and gave part of his booty to the poor. Shane was
reputed to have killed only one other man - a fellow reparee
who had killed one of the landlords under Shane’s protection.
The Glenshane Pass is named after him – the Glen of Shane. Stories and songs of
his exploits are numerous but one of the most famous was when he ambushed
General Napier and his Troops on a narrow bridge near Feeny.
After taking their arms and valuables, he made them strip to their underwear
and walk the rest of the way to Derry. The bridge is
still called the General’s Bridge. On
another occasion he fled through the Ness Wood to avoid capture and jumped from
a waterfall on Burntollet River breaking a leg in the process
but still managing to escape.
The falls are
called Shane’s Leap after this event.
Shane Crossagh was eventually captured after he had
been betrayed by a weaver from the Dungiven area when
Shane called to collect his levy of 10p. He was arrested and taken with his
sons to Derry Gaol.
a reprieve by Henry Carey, whose life Shane had saved years earlier, he could
or would not accept the offer which applied only to himself and not to his sons
(Mr Carey Lived in DUNGIVEN
CASTLE and had the right to
reprieve only one criminal per year). Shane Crossagh O’Mullan was hanged with his sons in the Diamond in Derry
in 1722 .
was buried at Banagher Old Church. It is said he
took the secret of his buried treasure with him to the grave. Apparently, not too far away, lies a foal skin full of gold
coins amassed by the bold highwayman before and after his great leap at the