Proinsias Dubh was born and reared at Meencloghore (Scraghy) on the borders of Tyrone,Fermanagh and Donegal.The site of his family home can still be seen.
At a fair in Castlederg,he met a pirate who introduced him to his new life.Proinsias Dubh gang was active during1770 - 1780,it included Tom Acheson (Grouse Hall) Tarlach Mhuiris (Tipperary) Mc Quaid (Monaghan) Mc Alynn (Fermanagh) and Supple Dick Corrigan they operated mostly in Fermanagh and their hideout was in the Tievemore Mountains.
Two storys of Proinsias which refer to the parish of Aghyaran
That he releaved the Red Coats of seventy thousand gold sovereigns.On his way from Killeter to Killen over Leitrim Hill he came across a dead foal.He skined the foal and buried the gold in the foal skin.some say that the spot where the treasure is buried is in line with the three spires,where the last rays of the setting sun strikes the hill on the 22nd June.
On another occasion he escaped from the Redcoats and took cover in a house in Segronan by people called Meehans known as Myles.
The Redcoats saw him going in the door and surrounded the house,but not before Proinsias had escaped through the back door.It was unusal for houses to have a back door at that time.He relied on his wits for success a lot of the time.
Pursuit & Capture
Proinsias Dubh`s last raid was at Lisgoole Abbey,the home of major Armstrong.During the raid one of the gang insulted the major`s daughter.Proinsias struck the man and knocked him down, This raid led to Proinsias`eventual capture as major Armstrong managed to get a messenger away to the militia.A servant girl in the house was aware of this but could`t warn him openly in front of her master.She was frying herring and as she turned the fish on the pan she kept saying,"You never where caught for your belly yet".
Proinsias picked up the warning and got away.They were pursued,however,and took refuge in Enniskillen Pound.
When the Redcoats caught up with them,Supple Dick Corrigan wanted to shoot it out but proinsias prefered to rely on his wits.They did escape and Proinsias sought shelter with a man called Hillard.Although he gave this man a guinea he betrayed him nonetheless.Proinsias was captured later near Irvinestown.
He was imprisoned in Eniskillen jail ( Now Eniskillen Tech)
A General Archdale came to visit him and offered to use his considerable influence on his behalf but Proinsias spurned the offer.
Trial & Execution
Proinsias Dubh was tried before a Grand jury in Enniskillen. At his trial Miss Armstrong pleaded for his life on the grounds that during the robbery of Lisgoole abbey he behaved honourably towards her.The jury,however,was deaf to her pleading and she left in tears as sentence of death was passed.
Proinsias Dubh was hanged outside Enniskillen jail.He took a long time delivering his final address to the crowd. On being reprimanded on the length of his speech he said:(Gentlemen,the day is long for you but short for me).
His body was taken by a fleet of boats down Lough Erne.From the waterfoot near Pettigo it was bourne through the village to Carn Graveyard,on the road to Lough Derg.There Proinsias Dubh was buried in an unmarked grave in the year 1782.
The Ballad Of Proinsias Dubh.
My name it is bold Frank Mc Hugh
As game a cock as ever crew.
In Meencloghore I was bred and born,
Free from all disgrace and scorn.
It was bad company I was in,
When first this robbery did begin.
The very night I went away,
My wife she cried to this sad day.
First we took Donegal and Derry,
Where we drank till we were merry.
When trade in this country it fell low
We then took Connaught and Mayo
As I and my comrades marched along
We came to one Mr Armstrong,
But also to our sad fate
We arrived at his house to late.
Here is five pounds I will give to you
If you tell me where is Frank Mc Hugh.
Your five pounds will do me no harm ,
Frank Mc Hugh lies in my barn.
Then the guards did give me a close pursue;
I gave them all enough to do.
Going up by a place called Irvinestown
Those valiant heros ran me down.
On the gallows I am condemned to die
And hope that God will pardon me,
And hope that God will pardon me,
I die all on the gallows tree.
Here`s to my wife,my children and friends,
An obligation I leave on them.
An obligation I leave on them,
For to never upcast my dismal end