The 1798 United Irishmen rebellion began in Antrim following a meeting to prepare for revolt by the Ulster Directory on 1 February 1798, at McClean's Inn, Randalstown. Robert McClean's "Great Inn" had long been an Irish Volunteers meeting place. The uprising in Randalstown started on 24th May 1798. A number of the local militia were taken prisoner and held in the local court house (now the library) in Randalstown. United Irishmen from Randalstown joined their colleagues from around the area and proceeded to Antrim town. A series of skirmishes took place there which ultimately left the United Irishmen defeated and routed. Some were killed and many fled. The military authorities proceeded to Randalstown where they were able to release their colleagues held prisoner in the courthouse. Houses in the town had their thatched roofs set alight as a reprisal, and as the fire spread from house to house, the whole town burned. Many United Irishmen fled to America, including amongst them, the actor John Wayne’s gt gt grandfather Robert Morrison who lived near Randalstown.