Michael Corcoran emigrated to the United States in 1849, shortly before his 22nd birthday. In the fourteen years that remained to him he became one of Irish-America’s most popular and influential leaders. Rising to Colonel of the 69th New York State Militia he notoriously refused to parade the regiment on the occasion of the Prince of Wales’ visit to New York in 1860. With the advent of war he led the 69th at Bull Run and was captured there, becoming a hero of the Union for his involvement in ‘Enchantress Affair.’ Upon his release in 1862 he organised and led his own brigade, ‘Corcoran’s Irish Legion’, which he commanded until his death in December 1863. I took the opportunity on a recent visit to Sligo and Donegal to visit some of the sites associated with Corcoran.
The memorial to Brigadier-General Michael Corcoran in Ballymote, Co. Sligo. This is the closest village to Carrowkeel where Corcoran was born on 21st September 1827. The memorial was erected in 2006 and together with the Thomas Francis Meagher equestrian statue in Waterford is Ireland’s most impressive American Civil War related memorial.
Detail of the Corcoran Memorial in Ballymote, Co. Sligo.
Plaque commemorating the unveiling by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of the Corcoran Memorial, Ballymote, Co. Sligo.
Fragment of steel from the World Trade Center, New York to commemorate Firefighter Michael Lynch who died as a result of the 9/11 attack. Firefighter Lynch’s family are originally from Co. Sligo.
The crest of the 69th New York at the Corcoran Memorial, Ballymote, Co. Sligo.
Ballymote, Corcoran’s home village.
Creeslough, where Corcoran served in the Police
New York, where Corcoran emigrated
Bull Run, where Corcoran led the 69th NYSM
In 1846 Michael Corcoran joined the Revenue Police and was stationed in Creeslough, Co. Donegal. His three years in the force, pursuing locals for misdemeanours such as illicit alcohol production radicalised the young man. He joined the local Ribbonmen, a secret agrarian society that sought to strike back at Landlords and the administration that supported them. He fled Ireland when the Revenue Police grew suspicious regarding his activities. These buildings now occupy the site of the former Revenue Police Depot in Creeslough, Co. Donegal.
These nineteenth century buildings now occupy part of the former Revenue Police Depot in Creeslough, Co. Donegal where Michael Corcoran served. It is possible that part of the original depot is partly preserved in their walls.
More Nineteenth Century buildings on the former site of the Revenue Police Depot, Creeslough, Co. Donegal which may preserve part of the fabric of the original layout.
The Lackagh Bridge, near Creeslough, Co. Donegal. Although slightly altered since Corcoran’s day, the bridge and road would have been extremely familiar to the Sligo man. It lies on the only north-easterly route from Creeslough, a road which Michael Corcoran would have regularly travelled while carrying out his duties with the Revenue Police.
Doe Castle, near Creeslough, Co. Donegal. Michael Corcoran was undoubtedly extremely familiar with this Castle, and most likely visited it often. Given his later Fenian persuasion is it easy to see him being attracted to the former Stronghold of the Mac Suibhne na d’Tuath, where the famous Red Hugh O’Donnell once spent part of his childhood.