ON THIS DAY: 22nd June 1922: ROCKHILL AND BALLYMACOOL HOUSE ATTACKS
Following the outbreak of the Civil War in the early months of 1922, both Rockhill House and Ballymacool House were taken over by forces opposed to the Treaty. Under the command of Capt. Paddy Harkin, Rockhill House was easily taken over, as at that time it was unoccupied. Across the river though, the armed men forcibly removed Col. John Boyd and his wife from their residence of Ballymacool House.
In reprisal of these unlawful takeovers, in the early morning of 22nd July 1922, the Pro-Treaty forces under the command of Lt. James McMonagle launched a surprise attack on both houses using Lee Enfield rifles and, in the case of Ballymacool, a grenade launcher. In the rapid exchange of fire that followed, Lt. Daniel Harkin of the Anti-Treaty forces was mortally injured on the open lawn of Rockhill House and although he was attended to and removed to Lifford Hospital, he died the following day from his injuries. In a matter of hours, both houses were retaken by the Pro-Treaty forces.
At Ballymacool though, the Anti-Treaty forces reportedly opened the graves of several family members as they searched for arms that were thought to have been hidden there. Also, a priceless salver was taken which had been in the family since 1467, when Thomas Boyd was married to Mary Stewart, daughter of King James II of Scotland. The salver was never recovered but the Boyds reported receiving several letters from someone in Letterkenny who offered to inform them of its location for a large sum of money, an offer that was never accepted.
For a more complete history of Rockhill House, Col. Declan O’Carroll’s 62-page book “Rockhill House – A History” is highly recommended