The Bastille Jug

Contributed by Sentry Hill The History House

A commemorative jug celebrating the Fall of the Bastille  in 1789. Copyright Newtownabbey Borough Council.

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Important aspects of Ulster's political history can be revealed through the McKinney family of Sentry Hill. William McKinney's grandparents grew up in the era of the French Revolution, which had immense influence in places far from Paris. The Bastille Jug commemorates this event.

In 18th century Ireland, many Ulster Presbyterians looked to the French example and the new political ideas of 'liberty, equality and fraternity'. They also supported the Society of United Irishmen who sought to plant these ideas in Ireland. In June 1798 John McKinney carried the signal for local United Irishmen to rise and march on Antrim town but the rebellion failed. William's great-uncle, Samuel George, was killed at the Battle of Antrim.

Like many Presbyterians, the McKinney's politics changed after the 1798 rebellion. In 1800 John McKinney, as a freehold voter, signed a petition in favour of the Act of Union between England and Ireland.

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