Claude Duval by William Powell Frith, 1859-1860 (Manchester Art Gallery)

gentlemen of the road

Our Arts Correspondent Emmet McGonagle finds out about infamous Highwaymen, including our own notorious Cushy Glen…

Respected local historian Dr Rob Curran provided an audience of enthusiasts with a unique insight into the lifestyle of a highwayman at his informative talk at the Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre on 29 October. Images of men in three-pointed hats and fancy coats were quickly diminished by tales of ambush, robbery and murder.

The first highwayman mentioned was Claude Duval – a simple stable boy who grew to pursue a treacherous life. Duval was a Robin Hood-type character, famed for the theft  of fifty guineas from Squire Roper, Master of the Royal Buckhounds. He was found guilty of six robberies and executed. Duval became the embodiment of rebellion and romance, and was famously written about by William Pope. In spite of his dangerous livelihood, Claude Duval established the idea of highwaymen being ‘the gentlemen of the road’.

Another highwayman deemed a poacher, a burglar, and a murderer, was Richard Dick Turpin. Turpin was famed for his alleged two hundred mile horse journey from Kent to York as an alibi after a robbery. From this event, Ainsworth romanticised Turpin to appear to be a rebellious yet understood character. Stories about Dick Turpin have since then been the subject of a Penny Dreadful book, a film and a television series.

Even though highwaymen are portrayed as loveable rogues who dramatically jump over rivers to escape the wrath of the law, the life of a highwayman was by no means as dramatic as it seems. In spite of common belief, highwaymen didn’t wear fancy clothing, nor did they wear masks. Highwaymen lived in caves and abandoned housing in an attempt to find shelter; and, due to their title of ‘outlaws’, learned to trust no one so as to not be sold out by others. The fact that heroes were too trusting of those around them added to the romanticism of life on the highway.

Irish highwaymen were said to be some of the most dangerous of their type in Europe, with at least two famous highwaymen from each county. Although some moved to England to pursue their endeavours, most stayed close to home to reap havoc upon those who stood in their way. One of the most renowned Irish highwaymen is Richard Power, whose adventures inspired Thin Lizzy’s infamous ballad ‘Whiskey in the jar’.

In spite of relentless support, the romantic image of highwaymen was changing. Dr Curran described the changes of image through three different eras: the Costello era, the Freney era, and the Brennan era. This era is home to Limavady’s most notorious highwayman Cushy Glen. Glen was part of the army in Derry, and left with the army’s cook to live on the Murder Hole road between Limavady and Coleraine. His tactic was to go into pubs to overhear who was passing on the Murder Hole road, and inspect how much money they were carrying. Business was frequently carried out in pubs, and so the amount of money being carried made the area opportune for Glen. When his victim left the pub Glen would wait in front of them on the road, and while they were passing, he would shoot the horse, cut the victim’s throat and loot the body. Glen was shot by a potential victim before he had the chance to use his blade.

Even though the history of highwaymen entails brutal stories of misanthropic murderers and ruthless robbers; the image of a men jumping defiantly over rivers after a triumphant heist will always sweeten the reality of the life on the road. After all, everyone loves a hero.

Image: Claude Duval by William Powell Frith (1859-60, Manchester Art Gallery)

 

This entry was posted on November 2nd, 2013 at 4:13 pm by Desima

Leave a Reply




Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Instagram

Follow Me on Instagram
  • Race Director, Mervyn Whtye called in this morning ahead of our next exhibition NW200 Faces & Places which opens on Friday 22 September. This exhibition features photographs of riders, spectators, stewards and fans of the North West 200 races during the years 1977-1987. Photographs are courtesy of the Coleraine Chronicle & Constitution archives. #NW200 #NorthWest200 #NWMotorcycling #nw200facesandplaces #ballymoneymuseum #causewaycoastandglens #causewaycoastandglensboroughcouncil #localhistory

    roevalleyarts: "Race Director, Mervyn Whtye called in this morning ahead of our next exhibition NW200 Faces & Places which opens on Friday 22 September. This exhibition features photographs of riders, spectators, stewards and fans of the North West 200 races during the years 1977-1987. Photographs are courtesy of the Coleraine Chronicle & Constitution archives. #NW200 #NorthWest200 #NWMotorcycling #nw200facesandplaces #ballymoneymuseum #causewaycoastandglens #causewaycoastandglensboroughcouncil #localhistory"
    11
    0
  • Our exhibition of stunning baskets by Louise McLean of @atlanticcraftni opens this afternoon and continues to 23 September! Louise is one of the foremost basket makers in Ireland and we're delighted that she's based on the #northcoast #causewaycoast and we're not only showcasing fabulous artistry but also supporting a locally based maker as part of #augcraft17 #baskets #craft #make #irishcraft #basketry #traditionalskills #contemporarycraft #louisemclean #atlanticcraftni #roevalleyarts #northernireland #limavady #exhibition #augustcraftmonth #inspire #inspiredbylandscapes #coastal #coastalart @augustcraftmonth @craftnipics

    roevalleyarts: "Our exhibition of stunning baskets by Louise McLean of @atlanticcraftni opens this afternoon and continues to 23 September! Louise is one of the foremost basket makers in Ireland and we're delighted that she's based on the #northcoast #causewaycoast and we're not only showcasing fabulous artistry but also supporting a locally based maker as part of #augcraft17 
#baskets #craft #make #irishcraft #basketry #traditionalskills #contemporarycraft #louisemclean #atlanticcraftni #roevalleyarts #northernireland #limavady #exhibition #augustcraftmonth #inspire #inspiredbylandscapes #coastal #coastalart @augustcraftmonth @craftnipics"
    38
    3
  • Thanks to all who came to the launch of our two new exhibitions yesterday - 'As I See It' by Jim Holmes & 'Colourvision' by Ingrid McLaughlin continue in our Keady & Broighter galleries until 29 July!! ✨#limavady #roevalleyarts #exhibition #art #artexhibition #causewaycoast #causewaycoastandglens #northernireland

    roevalleyarts: "Thanks to all who came to the launch of our two new exhibitions yesterday - 'As I See It' by Jim Holmes & 'Colourvision' by Ingrid McLaughlin continue in our Keady & Broighter galleries until 29 July!! ✨#limavady #roevalleyarts #exhibition #art #artexhibition #causewaycoast #causewaycoastandglens #northernireland"
    18
    0
  • Our new #summer #eventsguides are fresh off the printing press! Pop in to pick one up or email us at information@rvacc.co.uk to get one emailed or posted direct! #augustchildrensmonth #limavady #arts #artscentre #northernireland #owenoneill #clydebuilttheatre #quantumtheatre #banyantheatre #pucapuppets #familyfilms #atlanticcraft #augustcraftmonth2017

    roevalleyarts: "Our new #summer #eventsguides are fresh off the printing press! Pop in to pick one up or email us at information@rvacc.co.uk to get one emailed or posted direct! #augustchildrensmonth #limavady #arts #artscentre #northernireland #owenoneill #clydebuilttheatre #quantumtheatre #banyantheatre #pucapuppets #familyfilms #atlanticcraft #augustcraftmonth2017"
    12
    0
  • The fantastic folk group Lore perform alongside the fabulous Niamh McGlinchey this Saturday 24 June, 8pm. Candlelight, BYO - sure, what more could you want to polish off your week! #lore #niamhmcglinchey #folk #country #concert #livemusic #livemusicni #northernireland #limavady #roevalleyarts #countyderry #june #music #chill #weekendvibes #weekendfun #byo

    roevalleyarts: "The fantastic folk group Lore perform alongside the fabulous Niamh McGlinchey this Saturday 24 June, 8pm. Candlelight, BYO - sure, what more could you want to polish off your week! #lore #niamhmcglinchey #folk #country #concert #livemusic #livemusicni #northernireland #limavady #roevalleyarts #countyderry #june #music #chill #weekendvibes #weekendfun #byo"
    16
    1
  • We attended the @artscouncilni literature & traditional music seminars today at the #seamusheaneyhomeplace in #bellaghy Fabulous heartfelt exhibition of the poet's life and work. Wonderful friendly staff. Will be back! #seamusheaney #powerofwords #literature #poetry #poetrycommunity #irishliterature #irishpoet #artscentre #literature #ireland #northernireland

    roevalleyarts: "We attended the @artscouncilni literature & traditional music seminars today at the #seamusheaneyhomeplace in #bellaghy 
Fabulous heartfelt exhibition of the poet's life and work. Wonderful friendly staff. Will be back! #seamusheaney #powerofwords #literature #poetry #poetrycommunity #irishliterature #irishpoet #artscentre #literature #ireland #northernireland"
    30
    1
  • We recently visited the #eleanorwheeler #exhibition at the #femcwilliam #gallery in #countydown We love Eleanor's nature inspired sculpture and also the recreated #studio of the #sculptor #femcwilliam - seeing his #tools and #workshop is just wonderful. As is the #planting and #flowers and #greenery in the #sculpturegardens #ceramics #ceramicsculpture #outdoors #sculpture #artistsoninstagram #inspiration #specialplace #culture #irishart #irishartist

    roevalleyarts: "We recently visited the #eleanorwheeler #exhibition at the #femcwilliam #gallery in #countydown 
We love Eleanor's nature inspired sculpture and also the recreated #studio of the  #sculptor #femcwilliam - seeing his #tools and #workshop is just wonderful. As is the #planting and #flowers and #greenery in the #sculpturegardens 
#ceramics #ceramicsculpture #outdoors #sculpture #artistsoninstagram #inspiration #specialplace #culture #irishart #irishartist"
    29
    2
  • Experiments in the dark... @caakeproject artist Bronagh Corr McNicholl facilitates a Cyanotype print workshop to accompany the #readingsinpassage #exhibition currently on display. #printmaking #workshop #community #learning #inspiration #galleryeducation #create #limavady #roevalleyarts #experiment

    roevalleyarts: "Experiments in the dark... @caakeproject artist Bronagh Corr McNicholl facilitates a Cyanotype print workshop to accompany the #readingsinpassage #exhibition currently on display. 
#printmaking #workshop #community #learning #inspiration #galleryeducation #create #limavady #roevalleyarts #experiment"
    19
    0
  • Artist Sandra Robinson kindly facilitated a Painting Pathways Out Of Landscapes workshop to coincide with the @caakeproject #readingsinpassage #exhibition currently on show. The group experimented with texture and form to create brilliant, vivid abstract landscapes inspired by the exhibition. #caake #workshop #learning #community #create #experiment #expression #exploretocreate #limavady #roevalleyarts #engage #galleryeducation #northernireland

    roevalleyarts: "Artist Sandra Robinson kindly facilitated a Painting Pathways Out Of Landscapes workshop to coincide with the @caakeproject #readingsinpassage #exhibition currently on show. The group experimented with texture and form to create brilliant, vivid abstract landscapes inspired by the exhibition. 
#caake #workshop #learning #community #create #experiment #expression #exploretocreate #limavady #roevalleyarts #engage #galleryeducation #northernireland"
    21
    1
  • We LOVE ❤️ these fab tote bags made by our Connecting Creatively group last Thursday night. Inspired by our #louisebourgeois #exhibition currently on show, the Connecting Creatively course aims to help adults explore expressing themselves and their emotions creatively in a supportive and intimate group setting. Perfectly apt for Louise Bourgeois whose #emotional #life dominated her creative work. #learning #community #create #inspiration #internationalartist #northernireland #limavady #exhibition #galleryeducation #bringingarttolight #theangrycat

    roevalleyarts: "We LOVE ❤️ these fab tote bags made by our Connecting Creatively group last Thursday night. Inspired by our #louisebourgeois #exhibition currently on show, the Connecting Creatively course aims to help adults explore expressing themselves and their emotions creatively in a supportive and intimate group setting. Perfectly apt for Louise Bourgeois whose #emotional #life  dominated her creative work. 
#learning #community #create #inspiration #internationalartist #northernireland #limavady #exhibition #galleryeducation #bringingarttolight #theangrycat"
    22
    0