Many areas of the world have historical stories about gangs of bandits and robbers. Depending on the evidence consulted, they can be ruthless killers or Robin Hood type folk heroes. Ireland is no different and there are many examples of Tories, highway men and rapparees. One of the most well known bands of outlaws was the Kellymount gang. This group of men committed many robberies in the late 1730s before being captures in 1740.
In the fifth volume of his tome on Irish history, Ireland and Her People, Thomas W.H. Fitzgerald refers to the year 1740 as the year of the “Kellymount gang outrages”. The leader of the gang was a man by the name of Brenan. This name is synonymous with the north Kilkenny area. An unflattering account is given of him in Reilly’s Dublin Newsletter of 1740: “Brenan is said to be a man of very mean appearance, has a freehold of nine pounds per year, near the coal pits, but, renting one of the coal pits, and not succeeding, he started this gang”. From 1738-1740 the gang was said to number about thirty men and roamed areas of counties Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly and as far west as Galway.
A more sympathetic view of the gang is given in a 1902 anti-establishment publication: “Their head-quarters seem to have been Coolcullen Wood, about seven miles from Kilkenny……..They were so formidable that a strong military force had to be sent against them. This gang committed no murders, disdained to take anything but money, horses, and sheep; sometimes divided their plunder with the starving people; and had in the outset pledged their honour not to rob any of the gentlemen of the County Kilkenny.”
While the gang members seem to have come from many areas of north Kilkenny, their association with Kellymount most likely comes from them frequenting the area. Just eight years after the demise of the gang a travel writer wrote about visiting an inn in Kellymount that the gang used to regularly frequent. Later in the century, a traveler in Ireland reported in 1791 that he was shown a cave in Kellymount that the gang used as a meeting place.
Eventually, Brenan, and other gang members were captured in Galway and this led to their demise. He was taken to a jail at Nenagh, Tipperary and then onto another jail at Clonmel, Tipperary. Here, in September 1740, he died of the wounds that he sustained during his capture. Darcy, another gang member, was tried in Carlow and hanged with his head fixed on the courthouse.
 From the Irish word tóraidhe. Generally meaning a man who is pursued, it was given to soldiers who fought for the Confederacy against Cromwell’s forces and then became outlaws and highwaymen.
 From the Irish word ropairí. They were originally Irishmen who fought in the Williamite Wars in the 1690s and were known for fighting with pikes. Subsequently, the term was used for highwaymen
 Fitzgerald, Thomas W.H. 1909. Ireland and her people; a library of Irish biography, together with a popular history of ancient and modern Erin, to which is added an appendix of copious notes and useful tables; supplemented with a dictionary of proper names in Irish mythology, geography, genealogy, etc. Volume 5. Chicago: Fitzgerald Book Company. p.786.
 MacLysaght, Edward. 1985. The Surnames of Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.
 Madden, Richard Robert. 1867. The History of Irish Periodical Literature form the end of the 17th Century to the middle of the 19th Century. London: T.C. Newby. p.277
 Connolly, Sean. 2008. Divided Kingdom: Ireland 1630-1800. Oxford: OUP. p.321.
 O’Rourke, John. 1902 (3rd ed, republished in 2008). The History of the Great Famine of 1847. Middlesex: The Echo Library, p.29
 Chetwood, W. R., 1748. A Tour through Ireland in Several Entertaining Letters: Wherein the Present State of That Kingdom Is Consider’d … Interspersed with Observations on the Manners, Customs, Antiquities, Curiosities, and Natural History of That Country … London: Printed for J. Roberts
 Topham Bowden, Charles. 1791. A tour through Ireland. Dublin: W.Corbett
 Madden, Richard Robert. 1867. The History of Irish Periodical Literature from the end of the 17th Century to the middle of the 19th Century. London: T.C. Newby, p.279.
 Ibid., p.280