The town was a centre for excitement and bloodshed
The Lisburn man who led the united Irishmen to glorious defeat
This was a movement founded in 1791 with the idea of uniting Irishmen of all creeds and classes in one common bond for the purpose of seeking a more equitable adjustment of constitutional laws.
One local cleric, the Rev. Phillip Johnston of Ballymacash House, became so unpopular with the United Irishmen, through the exercise of his magisterial duties, that they decided to kill him.
Several unsuccessful attempts were made, and on one night, Saturday, October 8, 1796, when leaving the house of a friend, Mr. Johnston was wounded in the left shoulder.
This aroused considerable indignation locally, but despite public meetings and a reward of £1,000 the offender was not brought to justice.
On October. 23, 1796, the Habeas Corpus. Act was suspended, and soon after a number of Lisburn merchants were arrested on a charge of high treason:
From 1796 until 1798 Ireland drifted into civil war and during the winter of 1797 one Lisburn white-smith is recorded forging upwards of 500 pikes, besides attending, to his ordinary work.
The linen markets of Ulster were at this time attended by great numbers of buyers and among gentlemen one of the most respected was Henry Munroe, of Lisburn.
He had been a member of the Lisburn Volunteers at the time of their disbandment, and afterwards joined the United Irishmen.
He was a member of the Episcopal Church, a regular attender at the Sunday services at the Cathedral, and was highly respected by the rector and the curate.
In May, 1798 preparations were made by the United men to take the field against the Government troops.
The member who had been appointed to lead them declined at the last moment to act as commander, and on the night of Saturday June 9, Henry Munro was approached by a Belfast lawyer (the legal advisor of the society).
Although he had at no period before this contemplated taking the field against the Royal troops, Munro was told, at his Market Square home, that the only hope for the United men was that he would take command.
Looking upon the call as a matter of honour he accepted it without considering the magnitude of the responsibility he was about to undertake.
At the Battle of Ballynahinch, fought on Wednesday, June 13, the insurgents were completely routed and fled in all directions.
The unfortunate general was among the last to leave the field, and for several hours roamed about the countryside.
Early on the Thursday morning he sought shelter in a farmhouse and remained there for nearly two days receiving great attention from his kind hearted host.
Told he most seek some other refuge Munro set off on Saturday morning and at a farm on the outskirts of Dromore, Co. Down, offered a man £5 (all the money he had in his possession) and a small parcel of shirts ff he would conceal him for a few days until the Government offer of pardon to the rebels who gave up arms should be issued.
After taking the money and offering shelter the man went to Hillsborough and told the yeomanry of having Munro concealed in his outhouse.
A guard was immediately sent for him and the unfortunate Munro was taken prisoner.
Confined in a temporary prison in Lisburn Munro was shown the utmost sympathy by his friends. On Monday, June 17, the trial came before a court martial.
Only three witnesses were examined for the Crown and the deposition that the prisoner had led the native troops at the battles being conclusive, the sentence of death was passed.
At four o'clock Munro was brought out under a strong guard. He was allowed to take the Sacrament at the rector's house before being taken in procession to a temporary gallows, erected nearly opposite the woolen drapery concern of which he was the proprietor.
Munro exhibited perfect coolness and, whilst standing at tits foot of the gallows, was given permission to speak to a friend who lived nearby.
After a short prayer he stepped on the ladder and when one of the steps gave way he fell. On the ladder being adjusted he went up with the rope around his neck and in a few moments it was all over.
Although his conduct was looked upon as that of the wildest and most misguided patriotism, Munro's political opponents, as well as his friends, mourned sincerely a man whom everyone respected as a worthy and amiable citizen.
When the body was taken down, the final vengeance of the law was carried out.
Three other men were hanged in Lisburn about the same time - Dick Vincent. George Crabbe and Tom Armstrong, who suffered death on the lamppost at the comer of Castle Street, opposite the Market House - and the heads of the four men were stuck on spikes and placed at each comer of the market house. Henry Munro', mother lived in Lisburn for many years after his death, and supported her self respectably by keeping a little shop, situated on the Sluice Bridge, Bow Street. She survived her son by about 17 years.