Conditions of Battlefield
Due to the terrain, Taaffe and MacCholla
could not visually see each other. The Crown of the summit
separated the Royalist forces, and the view of the Right
from Inchiquins CP.
The Royalist Right slope is very steep, the Left slope is
a much gentler rise.
Estimated time of Battle approx. 2.30 p.m. on the 13th Nov.
[24th by old Calendar], very late in the year for campaigning.
Weather conditions good, very cold with snow threatening.
Sequence of Battle; Phase 1
As Inchiquins Right infantry was forming up for an attack,
Taaffe in an attempt to take advantage of their disorder,
attack's first. He orders the  CastleConnell Horse with
infantry under Col. Piers Walsh to attack Inchiquins right,
Roes Infantry Regiment .
The CastleConnel Horse Charge is met by sustained musket
fire. Front files of horse annihilated. CastleConnel's horse
scatters in chaos.
Temple's Horse  counter-charges, CastleConnell horse
 retreat and run down supporting infantry.
Inchiquin orders Roes infantry Reg.  into Counter-Attack.
CastleConnell Horse  retreat's across the front of, and
through the Leinster Reg.  and the Connaught and NW Reg.
, disordering both. Pursued by Temples horse , these
both gallop off South and East.
Panic grips Taaffes right, both Major Purcell  and Taaffe
with his horse guards
 Saber and pistol deserters, adding to the general panic.
Purcell sends urgent messengers over to the Right to recall
the Rights Horse [1, 2 & 3]. Col. MacDonagh MacCarthy
 ignores recall.
Note: At this point Col. Richard Butler
moves his Tipperary Reg.  to engage Roe . A furious
fire fight envelops as Roe  engages Butler . As the
left's two other Regiment  and  disintegrate.
Taaffe takes , ,  and 
when joined by  and  due South off the field, he turns
right [West] towards his base in Kanturk..
Col. Richard Butler attempts to stop Taaffe and threatens
to pistol Taaffe, a furious argument develops. Many of Taaffes
officers desert him and fight on.
Butler's Reg.  forces Roe  to a standstill, Butlers
Pike press home, Roe's attack  falters.
At this point, Inchiquin, gathers reserves
 and  and pushes home charge. Col. Butler's  line
folds up from the left after about ten minutes of furious
fighting. Parliamentary forces pursue Left in rout. The
flat summit of the hill is a mass of dismounted horses,
dead, running troopers, and hastily abandoned baggage. Col.
Butlers Captains and Ensigns desperately gather knots of
officers as the remnants of the left and Castleconnells
horse scatter about in terror. These are relentlessly run
down by the Inchiquins horse and foot. The rout continues
in the general direction of Buttevant. Meanwhile on the
Royalist right! after the recall of the Royalist Rights
horse  and . Col. Sir William Bridges Horse  disobeys
orders and pursues O'Grady  & .
This disorders Inchiquins Left's infantry  and . Leading
directly to Phase 2.
Sequence of Battle; Phase 2
Lieu. General MacCholla to the sound of Máirseail
Alasdroim, launches all of his infantry Reg.'s  and is
joined by Horse , in a deadly silent charge. These annihilate
the Forlorn Hope , Col. Crispe is captured. They pull
up, fire a volley, throw down there muskets, with there
swords and axes, they smash a bloody swathe through Grey's
foot  and left side of Craig's  Regiments. Grey's
Foot  is routed, its officers fall dead, the man are
scattered. Craig rallies  and falls mortally wounded,
as does Col. Alaister MacDonnell of Annagh County Clare.
Col. MacDonagh MacCarthy's Lancers  shatter Bridges horse
reserve  and elements of his horse which did not disobey
orders earlier. Gaelic Lances/Javelins used to great effect
against Bridges Horsed infantry. The remnants of Grey's
foot  and left side of Craig's  Regiments are relentlessly
run down by MacChollas Reg.'s [4a, 4d] and MacCarthy's horse
Col. Sir William Bridge falls dead in the melee and the
running horse to horse fighting.
Craig's Reg.  becomes rallying point, forms a square
and bitter fighting develops as Craig's Reg.  attempts
to stand. Elements of [4d] capture and use the two cannon
 against Craigs Reg. .
In the general disorder and chaos some elements of the Glengarry's
[4b] work there way down and storm Inchiquins CP . Ulster
clansmen butcher the civilians and in the sack of the CP
most become too drunk to fight. Officers and scattered elements
of Col. Butlers Reg.  work there way down to fight with
the Right. However, many of the Royalist right consider
the battle over and a steady stream of men leave the field
[4a, 4d] and . On the Royalist right bands of Royalists
hunt down and kill fugitives from  and . As indeed
on the Royalist Left bands of horse and infantry from Temples
horse , Bridges Horse  and Roes infantry  root
out terrified bands of fugitives.
With no horse to press home the attack on Craig's Reg. 
a bloody hand-to-hand engagement develops. Repeated charges
by MacChollas Regiment's [4b, 4c, 4e and 4 f] are met by
sustained musket fire. Pikes are hurled like javelins, stones,
axes and muskets are used like clubs. Fighting continues,
as does the general rout, MacDonagh MacCarthy's horse
chase Bridges horse  for miles, running them down and
offering no quarter. Critically MacCholla fails to regroup
his regiments and they are not ready for what was to unfold.
Sequence of Battle 3
After about 1 hour as light is fading Inchiquin regroups
elements of his right not engaged in the rout. The sound
of the distant battle on his left is a cause for concern.
Inchiquin orders Col. Edmund Temples Reg.  of horse and
Roes Reg  to sweep the field, and to offer no Quarter
to the enemy.
They over run Inchiquins captured CP , putting the drunken
defenders to the sword. Temples horse  charged along
the foot of the hill to where the large remnants of Craig's
Reg.  where standing fast against MacCholla's [4b, 4c,
4d, and 4e].
Temples Horse  arrives and surrounds MacCholla. After
three hundred of his men fall dead, Temples horsemen cry
To wild cheers the humane Col. Temple agrees. MacCholla
for the first time in his life accepts. Fighting stops,
most of the Royalist right had already left the field or
where pursuing fugitives.
Temple takes MacCholla and about 100 of his men, the rest
leave for Kanturk. How he then died is a mystery, he was
drinking it is said at the well of his name, and was shot
or stabbed by a wounded militia man in the half light. There
are plenty of fanciful stories around his death, some say
he wore plate armor! and the gap in the palte as he bent
over for a drink exposed his back, into which he was stabbed.
However, antique plate Armor? on a proud highland Chief?
preposterous. In another contemporary account, he was offered
quarter, but was subsequently shot/stabbed in the half light
by an unknown assassin. MacCholla mortally wounded is carried
to Inchiquins new CP at Rathmaher House, he dies in the
stable about one hour after he was wounded, wrapped in his
highland plaids. His heart broken men are visited by a silent
moody Inchiquin, who looks at the body and leaves.
Both sides still have active patrols, both armies are still
in the vicinity and pursuing each other, the deadly hide
and seek continues into the next day. Taaffe takes up fortified
positions in Kanturk, his forces are steadily reinforced
by returning units, as well as fresh reinforcements from
Limerick City, who arrived to late for the battle.
This was the bloodiest battle ever fought in Munster. The
figures of both the size of the armies and the amount of
casualties has always been disputed.
About 2,000 to 2,500 on each side where killed. Inchiquin
lost a lot of his senior officers, among them, Col. Bridge,
Major General Craig, Major Stannard, and Judge advocate
Sir Robert Travers. The bulk of Inchiquins casualties where
on his left. Col. Crispe was captured and exchanged for
the badly wounded Randal Og MacDonnell.
MacCholla's Deputy, also called Col. Alaister MacDonnell
of Annagh County Clare was killed.
Most of the Royalist casualties where from from the Munster
Reg.s, the Clare and the North Tipperary, also Col. Butlers
South Tipperary Reg. and CastleConnells Horse.
About 60 Royalist officers, the most senior being Col. Randal
Og MacDonnell of the Highland Reg., Lieut.. Col. Donal MacNamara
of the Clare Reg. and Major Sean Phelan of the North Tipperary
These where the most senior Royalist figures captured. The
surviving list of prisoners documented in Inchiquins report
is mainly from the Munster Reg.s, the Clare and the North
Tipperary, also Col. Butlers South Tipperary Reg. and CastleConnells
Horse. There is a notable absense of MacDonnels and Ulster
Inchiquin had many men captured notable amongst them being
Col. Crispe. However the Irish and Scotch Galloglas regiments
where not given to quarter. These prisoners where swapped
two days later for Col. Randal Og, the dead body of MacCholla
and the other listed prisoners.
Consequences of Battle
This viscous battle decided nothing. Inchiquin was practically
disgraced by the Cork plantation, most his casualties where
from the Cork Plantation. Inchiquin himself was a Royalist
had already switched sides and was despised for being proud
of his Gaelic roots, the casualty list amongst the Anglo-Irish
was too much. He switched sides 2/3 months later.
Lord Taaffe was practically an outcast, he was run out of
Limerick, lost his command, and with Major Purcell had to
serve in Prestons Leinster Army.
The Munster Army, largely unscathed was reformed under General
Lord Muskerry [who with the very large MacCarthy Clan refused
to take part in this battle]. The much depleted Parliamentary
forces had to retreat to Cork, 1648 was another bad year
Taaffes desertion is really hard to accept, admittedly he
attempted to stop the collapse, and if he had choosing to
could have supported Col. Butler. But there is hardly a
good word for him from any side. The towns of the South
refused his admittance. After Knocknanoss no Gaelic trooper
would fight with Taaffe, Preston, Ormonde, or Inchiquin
even though they faced a deadly common enemy, they simply
would not trust them. The stories of Taaffe and his guards
pistolling his own men began to appear like collusion. Folklore
in Ireland regards him as a traitor, sadly for the Taaffes
the evidence is there as well. It is worth noting that Inchiquin
in his reports to Parliment vowed to kill Taaffe for his
MacChollas death is still disputed, it is worth noting that
no controversy at the time appeared about his death.
Lastly the wild inaccuracies surrounding
this battle will some day be redressed. All of the written
sources of this battle are from the victors. The most quoted
contemporary account is by Stephenson, he admits to using
Inchiquins own figures in his book and saw no reason to
dispute them. His account of the battle is rather unfortunate,
as it was the first in print for a verylong time it tends
to be the most quoted. This has irked many in the locality,
the account above is taken from the documents of a local
man Dennis O'Donaghue.of Castlemagner Cross. It comes from
many local folklore and written documents over the years.
Modern historians tend cover their lack of detail and poor
lazy research by using freely words like rout, scattered,
ran away etc. These words applied to both sides, as well
brave, heroic, etc. The silent witnesses of Knocknanoss,
the Gaels have a story to tell, and the account above is
The battle of Knocknanoss if won by
the Royalists would have probably changed the course of
history in Ireland
However its defeat, meant the real story of Knocknanoss
has yet to be told, as the victor Inchiquin joined the losers
three months later. Its lessons are more relevant to the
Ireland of today, than ironically the Ireland of then..
There is a large Cairn monument erected by the locals at
Abraham's Cross roads, to commemorate the 350th anniversary.
MacChollas graveyard has been given a clean-up, a plaque
marks his grave. The battle-site is listed on the Irish
O/S map of the area, and is easily accessible. All would
be welcome, ask at O'Donaghues pub Castlemagner and the
locals will be fighting to give you a guided tour.