The sack of Baltimore took place on 20 June 1631, when the village of Baltimore in West Cork, Ireland, was attacked by pirates from the Barbary Coast of North Africa – Dutchmen, Algerians, and Ottoman Turks. The attack was the largest by Barbary slave traders on Ireland.
The attack was led by a Dutch captain, Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, also known as Murad Reis the Younger, who was enslaved by Algerians but released when he renounced his faith. Murad's force was led to the village by a man called Hackett, the captain of a fishing boat he had captured earlier, in exchange for his freedom. Hackett was subsequently hanged from the clifftop outside the village for conspiracy.
Murad's crew, made up of Algerians, launched their covert attack on the remote village on 20 June 1631. They captured 107 villagers, mostly English settlers along with some local Irish people (some reports put the number as high as 237). The attack was focused on the area of the village known to this day as the Cove. The villagers were put in irons and taken to a life of slavery in Algiers.
Some prisoners were destined to live out their days as galley slaves, rowing for decades without ever setting foot on shore while others would spend long years in harem or as labourers. At most three of them ever returned to Ireland. One was ransomed almost at once and two others in 1646.
In the aftermath of the raid, the remaining villagers moved to Skibbereen, and Baltimore was virtually deserted for generations.
In his book The Stolen Village, Des Ekin alleges certain conspiracy theories relating to the raid. He alleges that Sir Walter Coppinger, a prominent Catholic lawyer of Hiberno-Norse descent and member of the leading Cork family, who had become the main landowner in the area after the death of Sir Thomas Crooke, 1st Baronet, the founder of the English colony, secretly hired the Barbary pirates to attack the village in a conspiracy with the family of deceased local Irish clan chief, Sir Fineen O'Driscoll. It was the Clan O'Driscoll who had rented Baltimore and it's lucrative pilchard fishing grounds to English Puritan settlers. Following the construction of a local fortress to protect the village, however, the Baltimore Puritan settlers had ceased paying black rent to Sir Fineen and his heirs.
Ekin accordingly accuses Sir Fineen O'Driscoll's exiled derbhfine in Spain after the 1601 Battle of Kinsale, who allegedly would have felt insulted by the stoppage of the rent payments from Baltimore, but could not retaliate by legal means, of hiring Murad Rais at Coppinger's urging.
On the other hand, Murad may just as easily have planned the raid without any help. For example, it is well-documented that the authorities had advanced intelligence that Murad planned to make an attack against a port town along the County Cork coast, although Kinsale was incorrectly thought to be the target rather than Baltimore.
The truth soon emerged and he was hanged from the cliff top outside the village for his conspiracy