THE FELON’S TRACK
History Of the 1848 Attempted Outbreak In Ireland,
HISTORY OF THE ATTEMPTED OUTBREAK
Embracing the Leading Events in the Irish Struggle from
the year 1843 to the close of 1848
Author of “The American Revolution.”
Hurrah for the mountain side!
Hurrah for the bivouac!
Hurrah for the heaving tide!
If rocking the Felon’s Track!
THOMAS DAVIS, HIS EARLY LABOURS. — THE “NATION” NEWSPAPER— PROGRESS OF THE ASSOCIATION. — CLONTARF MEETING. — THE STATE TRIALS. — THE YOUNG IRELAND PARTY. — SMITH O’BRIEN. — FEDERALISM. —THE BEQUESTS ACT
FURTHER EMBARRASSMENT CAUSED BY THE RESCRIPT. — DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MR. O’CONNELL AND THE PRIMATE. — FINANCIAL REFORMS IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE ASSOCIATION, AND CONSEQUENT DISSENSION. — ’82 CLUB. — THE COLLEGES BILL. — DIFFERENCES AND CALUMNIES CONSEQUENT UPON IT. — QUARREL WITH MR. DAVIS. — THE GREAT LEVEE AT THE ROTUNDA. — DECLINE OF THE AGITATION. — CLOSING LABOURS AND DEATH OF THOMAS DAVIS
DEFEAT OF PEEL. — ACCESSION OF THE WHIGS. — MR. O’CONNELL’S COURSE. — DEBATES IN CONCILIATION HALL. — MR. O’CONNELL DENOUNCES THE YOUNG IRELAND PARTY. — CONTINUED DEBATES. — QUESTIONS AT ISSUE. — PHYSICAL FORCE. — THE SECESSION. — WHIG ALLIANCE. — DUBLIN REMONSTRANCE. — FORMATION OF THE CONFEDERATION, ITS CAREER. — MR. O’CONNELL’S DEATH. — CLOSE OF THE YEAR 1847.
THE SPLIT WITH MR. MITCHEL. — HIS TRIAL, CONVICTION, SENTENCE, AND SPEECH. — THE “FELON” AND “TRIBUNE” ESTABLISHED. — ARREST OF MESSRS. MARTIN, O’DOHERTY, WILLIAMS, AND DUFFY. — CONVICTION OF MR. MARTIN. — HIS SPEECH. — CONVICTION, SENTENCE AND SPEECH OF MR. O’DOHERTY. — DISSOLUTION OF THE CONFEDERATION. — THE LEAGUE
THE OUTBREAK. — MR. O’BRIEN IN CARRICK. — CASHEL. — KILLENAULE, MULLINAHONE, BALLINGARRY. — AFFAIR AT KILLENAULE. — DEFEAT OF MR. O’BRIEN’S PARTY AT THE COMMONS. — PERSONAL ADVENTURES OF THE WRITER AND HIS COMRADE, UP TO THE DATE OF MR. O’BRIEN’S ARREST
ARREST OF MR. O’BRIEN, OF MESSRS. MEAGHER AND O’DONOHOE. — ARREST OF TERENCE BELLEW M’MANUS. — CLONMEL SPECIAL COMMISSION. — TRIAL, CONVICTION, SPEECHES AND SENTENCE OF THE REBELS. — WRIT OF ERROR. — COMMUTATION OF SENTENCE. — TRANSPORTATION OF THE HEROES
CONTINUATION OF PERSONAL WANDERINGS. — DUNGARVAN. — THE COMERAGHS. — MOUNT MELLERAY. — KILWORTH. — CROSS. — DUNMANWAY. — GOUGANE BARRA. — BANTRY BAY. — THE PRIEST’S LEAP. — KENMARE. — THE REEKS. — KILLARNEY. — TEMPLENOE. — DEPARTURE. — CORK. — BRISTOL. — LONDON. — PARIS
WITH D’ARCY M’GEE’S NARRATIVE OF 1848, A PREFACE, SOME ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR’S CONTEMPORARIES, AN INDEX, AND ILLUSTRATIONS
M.H. GILL & SON, LTD.
1920Printed and Bound in Ireland by
M.H. Gill & Son, Ltd.
50 Upper O’Connell Street
Printed and Bound in Ireland by
M.H. Gill & Son, Ltd.
50 Upper O’Connell Street
GENERAL JAMES SHIELDS
UNITED STATES SENATOR, ETC.
In dedicating to you this narrative, I have been influenced by one consideration only. I have no title to your friendship. I cannot claim the most remote affinity with your career in arms. There is nothing connected with this sad fragment of history, either in fact or hope, to suggest any association with your name or achievements. But as my main object is to show that Ireland’s failure was not owing to native recreancy or cowardice, I feel satisfied that of all living men, your position and character will best sustain the sole aim of my present labour and ambition.
In past history, Ireland holds a high place; but her laurels were won on foreign fields, and the jealous literary ambition which raised adequate monuments to these stormy times denied to her swords the distinction they vindicated for themselves in the hour of combat. The most brilliant, unscrupulous and daring historian of France degraded the niggard praise he accorded them by making it the medium of a false and contemptible sneer. “The Irish soldier,” says Voltaire, “fights bravely everywhere but in his own country.”
Without pausing here to vindicate that country from such ungrateful slander, it is enough to say that you were not placed in the same unhappy position as the illustrious exiles from the last Irish army—soldiers of fortune in the service of a foreign prince. You were a citizen of this free Republic, and a volunteer in its ranks; it was your country, and you and your compatriots who followed the same standard did no dishonour to those who were bravest among the brave on the best debated fields in Europe.
In the wreck of every hope, all who yet cherish the ambition of realising for Ireland an independent destiny, point to your career as an encouraging augury, if not a complete justification for not despairing of their country. It is because I am among those that I have claimed the honour of inscribing your name on the first page of this, my latest labour in her cause.
I remain, dear Sir,
Very respectfully and sincerely yours,
New York, Sept. 20, 1849.
The Irish Confederation still awaits its historian. Three of its leaders have left narratives of its brief and momentous career, but, of the three, Doheny alone participated in the Insurrection that dug the political grave of Young Ireland. In “The Felon’s Track,” written hot on his escape from the stricken land, he tells the story vividly and passionately. It has morals deducible for all manner of Irishmen, and one for those English statesmen who comfort themselves with the illusion that Irish Nationalism, like Jacobitism, is a platonic sentiment. The man who, roused from his bed at midnight by tapping fingers on his window and a voice whispering that insurrection was afoot, rose and rode away in the darkness to join himself to its desperate fortunes was no young man ardent for adventure. Michael Doheny, when he left his home and his career to engage in the fatal enterprise, was a sober middle-aged barrister, a man of weight and fortune into which he had built himself by the hard toil of twenty years. His social anchorages were deep-cast—and no mere sentiment provokes such a man to throw aside the hard-won harvest of his life and risk the rebel’s or the felon’s fate.
In the leadership of the Young Ireland party Michael Doheny was, save Smith O’Brien, the oldest man and, like O’Brien, his counsels while courageous were always restrained. There was little other likeness between the men. Doheny sprang from the poorest class of the Irish farmers. At Brookfield, near Fethard in Tipperary, where he was born in May, 1805, he followed the plough on his father’s little holding, earning literally his bread in the sweat of his brow, and educating himself how he could, for his people were too poor to pay for his schooling. His indomitable perseverance and his thirst for knowledge overcame the formidable obstacles of fortune, and at thirty years of age the poor peasant boy had become a barrister of reputation for ability and fearlessness. He returned to his native county to become the most popular and trusted of its “counsellors”—the advocate who did not fear to face and beard Influence and Ascendancy in its courts. The city of Cashel had had much of its property alienated and long enjoyed by local magnates whom none were willing to offend. Doheny fought and defeated them and regained the purloined estates for the people. He was made Legal Adviser to the Borough of Cashel and when later the pestilence fell upon the place, and even the men employed to carry the sick to hospital lost courage and fled, Doheny showed the same manly example of citizenship and duty which years later forced him “on the Felon’s path,” by carrying in his strong arms to shelter and relief the deserted victims of the plague. Davis who marked his character, and knew that on such men a free and self-respecting Ireland must be rebuilt induced him to enter the Repeal movement of 1842, and in its councils he swayed the influence of a strong, sincere, able and incorruptible man until the Association fell into the toils of the English Whigs. Then he quitted it and formally adhered to the Young Irelanders. To them he was invaluable for his eloquence—less brilliant and polished than that of Meagher, but more effective in its appeal to the heart of the peasantry whom Doheny knew better than any of his colleagues. On a platform he triumphed, but with the pen he was often ineffective. His admiration and reverence for Davis misled him into laboriously imitating Davis’s style, and the result was what it must always be when one man attempts to express his ideas not in his own way but as he thinks a greater man would express them. Much that would have been impressive and lucid as Doheny becomes unimpressive and clouded as Doheny-Davis. In a few of his verses and “The Felon’s Track” Doheny the writer will survive. As a man who gave up all to help his country and served her like a gallant son, his memory must be honoured while Ireland has virtue.
The Irish Confederation, on whose council Doheny sat, was noble in conception, true in policy and able and honest in its membership. Never in the leadership of the modern Nationalist movement has there been the peer in genius and character of the men who founded and inspired that brilliant and short-lived organisation. In its career it went nearer to bridging the differences of class and creed in Ireland than any previous organisation since the Volunteers at Dungannon proclaimed themselves Irishmen and hailed their oppressed Catholic countrymen fellow-citizens. But the Confederation was not yet six months old when it was called on to face a situation in Ireland as terrible as that which confronted Irishmen when Eoghan Ruadh O’Neill lay dead and Cromwell marched at the head of his iron legions to the conquest of a distracted country. The failure of the potato-crop which menaced Ireland with serious loss at the birth of the Confederation in January, 1847, threatened the destruction of the people by the middle of 1847. The Relief measures provided by the English Whig Government set up a system under which places, large and small, were provided for some thousands of persons of political influence. Their tenure of employment depending upon the ministry, they used that influence to the end of sustaining the ministry, while the unfortunate small farmers who had hitherto kept on the right side of the line between poverty and pauperism were forced to the wrong side. Of all the measures passed under the guise of relieving “the famine-stricken Irish” the most infamous was that measure which provided that no farmer should be accorded relief if, the produce of his farm having gone to discharge his rents, rates and taxes, he hungered and yet strove to hold his farm. Before he was permitted to receive any help from the public funds he was required to surrender his land and become a pauper. Thus under pretext of relieving famine, pauperism was propagated.
Be it remembered that all this time there was no famine in Ireland. The potato-crop, indeed, had failed as it had failed in Great Britain, France, Germany and other countries at the same period, but the corn crop was fat and abundant. Each year of the so-called famine, food to maintain double the whole population was raised from the Irish soil. It was exported to England to feed the English people. Nobody starved in Germany. The German governments ordered the ports to be closed to the export of food until the danger had passed. The Irish Confederation demanded the same measure. “Close the Irish ports,” it called to the British Government, “and no man can die of hunger in Ireland.” The British Government, instead, flung the ports wide open. The great principle of Free Trade required that the Irish should export their food freely. Relief ships from foreign countries laden with the food subscribed by charitable people to succour the starving Irish met occasionally ships sailing out of the Irish ports laden with food reaped by the starving Irish. On the quays of Galway the unhappy people wailed as they saw their harvests borne away from them, and were admonished by the butt-ends of British muskets, the British Government meantime passing Relief measures which provided employment for hordes of English officials and Irish understrappers, and pauper-relief for those who surrendered their manhood and their property—the cost of this relief, like the cost of the passage of the Act of Union, being debited to Ireland—a generous loan in fact.
No doubt a union of the whole Irish people would have rendered all this impossible. The Irish Confederation worked hard to bring about this essential union. Directly and indirectly it achieved for a moment a semblance of national unity. The Irish Council, composed largely of the resident landlords—who mostly endeavoured to alleviate the distress—came into being, reasoned with the Government and, when the Government ignored reason, fell to pieces. George Henry Moore, a young sporting landlord and a Tory (afterwards, as a result, to become a Nationalist leader), conceived the design of getting all the Irish members of the British Parliament to act together against the existing British Government or any British Government which did not deal honestly and effectively with the crisis. With the Marquis of Sligo, a nobleman who did his duty to his tenantry during the Famine, Moore travelled around Ireland and secured between sixty and seventy Irish members of Parliament and forty-five Irish peers to subscribe to his independence programme. They met in Dublin, resolved boldly, departed for London cheered by the nation, and crumbled there at the Premier’s frown. When the Tory Lord George Bentinck proposed that instead of pauperising the Irish by a vote of four or five millions for relief there should be a vote of sixteen millions for railway construction, the Premier, Lord John Russell, threatened the Irish members with his displeasure if they supported Bentinck, and the majority of them thereupon opposed the proposal of reproductive work for the people in lieu of pauper relief.
It was in these circumstances Mitchel put forward his policy in the Confederation of arming the people and bidding them hold their harvests. The Confederation rejected the policy, still hoping to effect a national union. Through such a union alone, it declared, could national independence be achieved. Doheny strongly opposed Mitchel on this ground. Mitchel’s reply was simple. He had been and was ready to follow the aristocrats of Ireland if they would lead. They would not lead, and meanwhile the people perished. Therefore he would urge the people to save themselves. The policy of the Confederation in normal times would have been nationally sound. The circumstances had become abnormal, and Mitchel’s policy was suited to the abnormal circumstances. His conviction that the British Government was deliberately using the potato-crop failure for the purpose of reducing the Irish population—which then was equal to more than half the population of England and a menace to that country, as one of its statesmen incautiously admitted—was a conviction not shared by the bulk of his colleagues. They shrank from it as men will shrink from a conclusion that horrifies the human nature in them. Mitchel went outside the Confederation to preach his policy, and he might have preached it without result had not the French Revolution turned men’s minds to the contemplation of arms and armed opinion. The arrest, indictment and conviction of Mitchel, Doheny has described graphically. The reasons that prevailed against attempting Mitchel’s rescue, Doheny cogently states. There is no reason to doubt that an attempt to rescue Mitchel would have been a failure in its object. But there are occasions when it is wiser to attempt the impossible than to acquiesce. The unchallenged removal of Mitchel in chains from Ireland had a moral effect on the country that was worth 20,000 additional troops to the Government.
Thereafter, the Confederation vacillated in its policy and finally permitted itself, in its desire for Unity as the potent weapon, to be extinguished in favour of an Irish League which was to combine O’Connellites and Young Irelanders. The Irish League met once, and died. The Confederation had been hoodwinked. Doheny who opposed the amalgamation, retired to Cashel, severing his connection with the former Confederation. He was, therefore, free in honour to have taken no part in the insurrection, since it was begun by men from whom he had withdrawn. But when the voice in the night whispered through his window that his former colleagues had crossed the Rubicon, Doheny, like the man he was, rose and rode forth to make the fatal passage and stand or fall with them.
From this point, Doheny’s narrative may be supplemented and corrected by information that was not at the time he wrote available to him. Meagher, Leyne, M’Gee, O’Mahony and MacManus, have left in newspaper articles and in MS. accounts of what happened in the light of which Doheny’s narrative must be read.
On Thursday, July 20th, 1848, the British Government issued a proclamation ordering the people of Ireland to surrender their arms. Thomas Francis Meagher, who was at the time in Waterford, issued a counter-proclamation to the people of that city bidding them to hold them fast. He then hurried to Dublin to consult with his colleagues and he arrived in the metropolis the next day. There had been a strong division of opinion in the Confederate clubs as to how the Government proclamation should be treated, the general feeling of the rank-and-file inclining to open resistance. The leaders counselled a waiting policy until the harvest had been gathered, the arms to be concealed meanwhile. This counsel prevailed against the remonstrance of one of the Dublin leaders that if heaven rained down loaded rifles they would wait for angels to pull the triggers. If the insurrection could have been postponed until the harvest the counsel would have been sound. The Young Ireland leaders forgot, however, that the Government had one powerful weapon in reserve with which it might force their hands—the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. On July 21st Meagher and his comrades and the Dublin leaders discussed and arranged the outline of a contingent insurrectionary plan for the autumn. O’Brien left for Wexford and O’Gorman for Limerick to organise those counties. The next morning the news reached those who remained in Dublin that the Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended, and that a warrant was on its way to Ireland for the arrest of Smith O’Brien. The choice left was to fight, to become fugitives, or to surrender. Dillon, M’Gee, Reilly, P.J. Smyth and Meagher decided hurriedly on the first course. They rejected the proposal to begin the fight in Dublin, as they believed it would be hopeless with the resources at their disposal to contend against a disciplined garrison of 11,000 men in a city a large proportion of whose population was hostile. Kilkenny was regarded as a stronghold of the Confederation, and Dillon suggested it should be the objective. Dillon and Meagher quitted Dublin to seek O’Brien; Reilly and Smyth started for Tipperary, and M’Gee for Scotland where it was hoped the Glasgow Irish could be induced to rise, seize some of the Clyde steamers and effect a landing in Sligo or Mayo which might rouse Connacht and western Ulster to the assistance of the South.
Dillon and Meagher left Dublin on the night of the 22nd of July by the mailcoach for Enniscorthy. Neither had the slightest hope of a successful insurrection, but they felt that honour and its future survival demanded that a nation must reply to the command of a foreign power to gag its mouth and throw down its arms by drawing the sword. They found Smith O’Brien at Enniscorthy and he joined in their views. Father Parle and the people of Enniscorthy undertook to defend O’Brien by force of arms if any attempt were made to arrest him there, and agreed that if he went into Kilkenny and Tipperary and succeeded in arousing those counties Wexford would take up arms. O’Brien and his colleagues moved towards Kilkenny through Graiguenamanagh where the people received them with enthusiasm, and they arrived in what they hoped to make again the provisional capital of Ireland in the evening of the 23rd of July.
The considerations in favour of beginning the insurrection in Kilkenny were sound. It was the one Irish city of importance inaccessible to British naval power, it offered a convenient rallying-centre for the counties of Tipperary, Waterford, and Wexford upon which the Young Ireland leaders relied, the country around it was well-adapted for defensive fighting against superior forces, and it had an historic appeal to the Irish imagination. The arrival of the insurgent leaders was hailed with joy by the people, and there was no doubt of the readiness of the populace to fight. But an examination of the military resources of the place showed that the British forces consisted of 1,000 troops in a strongly-defended position, while amongst the Irish there were but 200 armed men and the gunsmiths’ shops in the city could not arm a hundred more. The decision not to strike the first blow at Kilkenny in the circumstances was inevitable. It was agreed to make for Carrick-on-Suir, another Young Ireland town, seize the place and march at the head of the elated Tipperarymen on Kilkenny. On Monday, July 24th, O’Brien, Meagher and Dillon left for Carrick-on-Suir, and on the way they were received with enthusiasm at Callan, where the 8th Hussars—mainly composed of Irishmen—manifested sympathy with the insurrectionary propaganda. Near Carrick they were joined by John O’Mahony, a landed proprietor of the neighbourhood, afterwards to become famous as the founder of Fenianism. By descent, education and character a leader of men, O’Mahony had thousands of followers among the people ready to rally to any venture for Ireland at his call. “His square, broad frame,” wrote Meagher, “his frank, gay, fearless look; the warm forcible headlong earnestness of his manner; the quickness and elasticity of his movements; the rapid glances of his clear full eye; the proud bearing of his head; everything about him struck us with a brilliant and exciting effect, as he threw himself from his saddle and, tossing the bridle on his arm, hastened to meet and welcome us. At a glance we recognised in him a true leader for the generous, passionate, intrepid peasantry of the South.” O’Mahony strongly advised them to begin the insurrection that night in Carrick, and he left to collect the peasantry. O’Brien and his comrades proceeded to the town where the people received them with frenzied enthusiasm, calling out to be led immediately to the fray. “A torrent of human beings rushing through lanes and narrow streets”—such is Meagher’s description of the scene—”surging and boiling against the white basements … wild, half-stifled, passionate, frantic prayers of hope … curses on the red flag: scornful delirious defiances of death…. It was the Revolution if we had accepted it.” But it was not accepted. The local leaders were unworthy of the people. They persuaded O’Brien to go elsewhere. It was a cardinal and egregious mistake which he regretted within twenty-four hours. Had he brushed the quavering local leaders aside and given the word to the imploring people of Carrick the insurrection of 1848 would have become respectable. O’Mahony’s followers to the number of 12,000 were on the march to Carrick when the news reached them of O’Brien’s departure. Disheartened they broke up and returned to their homes.
Doheny’s account of what happened after the fatal retreat from Carrick needs to be amplified in connection with the final error of O’Brien’s leadership. At the Council of War on the 28th of July O’Brien rejected the proposal to seize for the use of his followers all things needful, paying for them with drafts on the future Irish Government, and he declined the other practical proposal to offer farms rent-free to all who fought for Ireland. Neither would he assent to the suggestion that he and the other leaders should go into hiding until the harvest was reaped. Willing to fight and ready to die, he would not consent to conduct a revolution on revolutionary lines. The departure of Doheny and others—save Devin Reilly, who urged the abandonment of the insurrection as hopeless—was in pursuance of their plan to await the gathering of the harvest.
O’Brien’s attitude at the Council of War destroyed the last hope of the insurrection. He expected to get men to fight under his standard while he essayed no adequate provision for their support in the field, and interdicted them from interference with private property to supply them with the necessaries of the campaign. No nobler and braver man has appeared in modern Irish history than William Smith O’Brien, but at the head of an insurrectionary movement he was incompetent. There was none of his lieutenants who, in his position, could not have made the insurrection to some extent formidable.
That it could have been successful, few will believe. Mitchel and Meagher agreed that 1848 would not have been the year of Liberation. But the former held very justly that the insurrection if it grew to respectable dimensions might have forced terms from England. The attitude of France at the time was a factor in the situation. The pro-Irish minister, Ledru-Rollin, had been checked by the pro-English minister, Lamartine, but General Cavaignac and Louis Napoleon were, for divergent reasons, inclined to help Ireland against England, and assurances had been given that if an Irish insurrection gained considerable initial successes the French Government would exert influence on England. A successful blow at Carrick and a subsequent seizure of Kilkenny and proclamation of Irish independence from that city was possible, and if realised would have probably led to the counties of Waterford and Tipperary rising en masse. How far the insurrection would have spread outside those counties is problematical, but in the year 1848 they were counties which presented difficulties to regular troops and advantages to insurgent forces. According to M’Gee, Sligo was willing to rise if the South made a good beginning and the Bishop of Derry, Dr. Maginn, sent a message to Gavan Duty that he was willing to join in the insurrection at the head of his priests once the harvest was reaped. Doheny’s criticism of the action of some of the Tipperary priests is justified. But of others it is to be remembered that they were not in sympathy with Young Ireland, that they were not bound to support an insurrection undertaken irrespective of them, and that they could not be expected to take the initiative. There were at least two priests in Tipperary prepared to lead their parishioners to the insurgent standard if O’Brien struck at any point a successful blow. O’Brien’s indecision was the real cause why the insurrection died in its birth.
If courage and devotion could have saved Ireland in 1848, O’Brien and his comrades would have saved the land. No braver gentlemen could any nation produce. They asked their countrymen to take no risks they did not take themselves in the forefront. But courage and devotion alone can never make an insurrection into a revolution. 1848 was a failure—in one sense—because there was no second Mitchel in Ireland when the first Mitchel was hurried off on a British gunboat.
But 1848 was not a failure in the true sense of failure. For years the Irish people had submitted to any and every imposition of foreign tyranny, taught to believe that forcible resistance to outrage on their national liberties was in itself immoral. The sneer of the satirist that the Irish were:—
seemed to have grown a reality. Young Ireland evoked the fighting tradition of the nation once again. Without 1848 the spirit that freed the Irish Catholic from being tributary to another Church and regained the land for the farmers would have slept for a century—perhaps for ever.
Driven from his country, Doheny with the companion of his fugitive wanderings, James Stephens, and the chivalrous O’Mahony, founded the Fenian brotherhood in the United States. Once more before his sudden death in April, 1862, he saw Ireland—on the occasion of the MacManus Funeral.
Let me, said a wise man, always be surrounded by men of sanguine temperament. Defeat and exile could not dim the faith of Doheny in his country. The fugitive who had wrecked his fortunes in Ireland’s cause and witnessed a failure which English statesmen believed ended for ever the dream of Irish independent nationhood, set his foot in exile only to begin anew to plan Ireland Independent. So long as the sanguine heart that carried Michael Doheny undaunted along the Felon’s Track beats in the breast of his country the Irish Nation will be indestructible.
This Edition is reprinted from the Original Edition published in New York by W.H. Holbrooke, Fulton Street, in October, 1849. The portraits of the Young Ireland leaders are mainly from the daguerreotypes by Professor Gluckmann, and the illustrations of Tipperary in 1848 are reproduced from the “Illustrated London News” of that year.
There are few facts detailed in the following pages that need explanation here. If my motive in writing them were personal gratification, or simply a desire to preserve a memorial of scenes in which I took an anxious part, I might labour to make the narration more interesting to my readers, without any care for future consequences.
But through every disaster I preserved unbroken faith in the purpose and courage of my country. I believed, and still believe that her true heart is faithful to liberty and hopeful for the future; and this conviction involved me in a struggle with the apparently opposite tendency of the facts I was bound to narrate. Had I to write for a new generation, upon whom these facts could have made no false impressions, my task would be easy. I am persuaded that a simple statement of all that occurred would satisfy any candid mind that no disgrace attached to Ireland in her recent discomfiture. But I must needs confess that it is a task of extreme difficulty to reconcile her fall with the pre-conceived notions or present prejudices of those who read her story through the false medium of the press; nor do I hope for more than partial success from the details I have been able to give of the circumstances of which she was the victim and the dupe.
It is impossible fully to appreciate the pernicious effect of Mr. O’Connell’s teaching, without reviewing in minute detail the leading circumstances of his wonderful career and the matchless and countless resources with which he upheld his fatal system. In dealing with this part of my subject my difficulties have been multiplied and enhanced by a strong desire to do him no injustice, and to leave untouched by doubt or suspicion a character so intertwined with my country’s love. But it became necessary to refer to those acts which chiefly tended to increase the obstacles which beset our endeavours. In doing this, whether here or elsewhere in my narrative, if I use phrases which would seem to imply harshness to his memory, I wish them to be understood as applied in reference to the attempt to effect the deliverance of Ireland by force of arms, and establishing her entire and perfect independence. I have avoided this question, assuming that I wrote only for those who agreed with me in the belief that such is her true destiny, and the end for which her children ought to strive.
In this view of her recent struggle, there can be no doubt of the tendency of Mr. O’Connell’s policy to demoralise, disgrace, enfeeble and corrupt the Irish people, and it is in that sense, and that only, I have always spoken of him.
Another subject, of perhaps greater delicacy and difficulty, was the part taken by the Catholic clergy. On my arrival in America, I found a fierce contest agitating, dividing and enfeebling the Irish-American population. It was asserted on one side that the entire failure was attributable to the Catholic priests, and that in opposing the liberation of Ireland they acted in accordance with some recognised radical principle of the Church.
I could not assent to either of these propositions. I knew several priests who were fully prepared to take their share in an armed conflict; in fact, the vast majority of those I met at the time. And again, with respect to such as did interfere, and opposed the efforts of the people’s chiefs, I do not believe that one man was influenced by considerations connected with, or emanating from the Church, in its corporate capacity. Of Mr. O’Connell’s policy, already referred to, none were blinder victims than some of the priests. It had made such an impression on them that they scarcely could believe anything was real, or any sentiment was true; and when they admitted its truth it was only to prove its madness. Of other and more questionable motives I shall say nothing here.
But while I feel the injustice of the sweeping charge made against the whole body of the priesthood, I would be unfaithful to my purpose and my convictions if I concealed the acts and language of those among them, who interposed and unhappily exercised baneful influence on the abortive attempt of their unfortunate country. I shall only say further that what relates to them is the only part of my narrative which gave me shame to tell.
I have only a word to add in reference to certain proceedings in the Committee of the Association now made public for the first time. It may be said, and, I doubt not, will be said, that these were matters which we were morally pledged to keep secret. I readily admit that, although there was no obligation whatever, either expressed or implied, as to any subject discussed in committee any more than in the public hall, still, I should not disclose any part of its proceedings if I were not compelled by an imperative necessity. Upon one subject, and that the most important to the character of my illustrious friend, no other proof was available. And the tacit understanding, in virtue of which I would be disposed to admit any obligation of secrecy, does not and could not extend beyond such matters as would, if divulged, endanger the safety or impair the efficiency of the Association. What I tell of the proceedings of the Committee, even if it yet existed, would scarcely have any such effect. But every one knows it not only does not exist, but that is has left no memory which it would be possible to degrade. Its physical existence long survived the last spark of moral vitality, and itsefficiency now consists in this, if it warn all men against the species of terrorism which finally prevailed in its councils and effected its overthrow.
In certain circumstances which I relate, I may possibly make some mistakes in the dates, owing to the difficulty of finding those dates in odd numbers and broken volumes of the Journals to which alone I have had access.
It would have given me the sincerest pleasure to add to the collection of heads, which I have been able to procure, those of others who took an honourable part in the Irish struggle. Foremost among them are John Martin and Kevin Izod O’Doherty, who followed in the footsteps and shared the fate of John Mitchel. But I am not aware that there are any likenesses of them in existence; at all events they are not to be obtained in this country.
There are others, too, mentioned in my narrative, whose likenesses I would feel delighted to present to my readers, and some, who although cursorily or not at all mentioned, acted a noble and devoted part. Of the first, are the companions of my wanderings, James Stephens and John O’Mahony; and of the second, Doctor Antisel, Richard Dalton Williams, James Cantwell, Richard Hartnet, Patrick O’Dea, and indeed many others, of whose efforts and sacrifices it would be a source of pride to me to make honourable mention.
I may be permitted to take this opportunity to assure them and others of whom I have not spoken that no name has been omitted by me from any feelings of dislike or any desire to depreciate the services and sacrifices of a single man among the hundreds, whose exile or ruin attests the sincerity of their convictions and the purity of their patriotism. Even with men who do not take the same view of last year’s history as I do, their names and characters will go far to redeem its darkest traces from shame and obloquy. They are now scattered over the wide earth, and there is not one among them from the highest to the humblest, whom I do not hold in the utmost honour and esteem.
 I am glad it has been found easy to supply these in this edition of the work.—Ed.
 Some of these will also be found in the present gallery—Ed.
A word remains to be said in reference to the fate of those who were the special objects of the Government’s attention. Of the six for whom a reward was offered, four escaped, namely, Mr. Dillon, Mr. O’Gorman, Mr. O’Mahony and myself. Mr. Dillon was the first who left Ireland. Late in August he sailed from Galway, and landed at New York after a voyage of seven weeks. In the same vessel sailed P.J. Smyth, who was despatched from Cashel to Dublin with directions from Mr. O’Brien. Richard O’Gorman, accompanied by John O’Donnell and Daniel Doyle, sailed from the mouth of the Shannon on board a vessel bound for Constantinople. After landing in the Turkish capital, they were obliged to lie concealed until able to procure passports for Algiers. Many foolish stories have been circulated in reference to Mr. O’Gorman’s adventures and disguises in Ireland. Not one of them has the least truth in it. He or his companions never assumed any disguise, and though their adventures were more perilous, they were not so romantic as those that have been related. A more detailed account of their wanderings would no doubt be as interesting to my readers as it would be agreeable to myself. But both the time and the limits I have proposed to myself for this publication exclude it here. I could not, without too long a delay, acquire that minute and accurate knowledge of facts and dates, which would be indispensable to such a history.
But of succeeding events in Ireland, and the men who controlled them, it is imperative to speak more in detail. John O’Mahony was their chief, and John Savage his principal counsellor and comrade. The former, although not compromised by any act previous to the arrest of Mr. O’Brien, evaded the vigilance of the detectives, and continued moving about from place to place, being generally guarded while he slept by a large number of faithful followers. No man was ever followed with truer devotion or served with more unwavering fidelity. He might have continued in the same district with perfect safety up to the present hour. But every moment of his time was engrossed by the endeavour to rouse the country to some becoming effort. John Savage, who had come to Carrick on a visit to a relation, partook of his enthusiasm and shared his toil. They spent many anxious nights in counsel together when it was supposed all spirit had left the country. The first ostensible object that brought the people together under their immediate guidance and control was the reaping of a field of wheat belonging to O’Mahony. A vast crowd amounting to several hundred stalwart men assembled. They had scarcely entered on their labour when the approach of a troop of horse was announced. O’Mahony and Savage were compelled to retire. The military cavalcade entered the field, and rode rudely among the men and ripe corn. Still the reapers desisted not. They proceeded with their labours sedulously and silently. But there was no pretext for arresting any of the men, and no pretext afforded for further outrage, and the business of the day went on without further outrage from the soldiers. This occurred on the 22nd of August. Some days later, sullen crowds were seen ascending Aheny Hill, about five miles to the north of Carrick-on-Suir. By what mysterious agency they were directed none could tell. About a similar distance from the town, in the opposite direction, near the village of Portlaw, another camp was formed with equal rapidity and mystery. With these men John Savage took his station. He was entirely unknown to the people; and owed his influence over them to his singular resolution. The understanding was that these two bodies, and a third consisting of an equal number of men which was promised from Kilkenny, should march simultaneously on the town of Carrick and the fort at Besborough where five hundred men were encamped. He who undertook to lead the Kilkenny men went on the execution of his mission, leaving O’Mahony at one side, and Savage on the other, to contend with the impetuosity of their respective followers who demanded with violence to be led on. As much perhaps from the precariousness of their situation as from a reckless daring, they could not brook the least delay. Their leaders, on the other hand, urged the necessity of steadiness and prudence. It was too late for such policy. The time between the first step in revolution and action is the most trying to the courage and faith of undisciplined men. In this instance it produced fatal results. The weakness of the timid increased, and the courage of the boldest was quelled. Suspicion was aroused, and desertion was the inevitable consequence. O’Mahony found it impossible to withstand the clamorous urgency of the men, and all his preparations were necessarily of a hasty and imperfect character. The arrival of the party from Kilkenny was the utmost limit of inaction that would be endured; and the leaders saw with regret that they had yielded too soon to the demands of those who precipitated the rising. The true guarantee of success would consist in perfect preparation under cover of secrecy, so as that the assembling could be followed by an immediate blow.
Scouring parties from each rendezvous, proceeded through the country in search of arms. Provisions were liberally supplied by the neighbouring farmers, and numbers were hourly arriving from distant parts of the country. But those who were engaged in the search for arms attacked police barracks and private houses. In general, these enterprises were rash, ill-advised and ill-arranged. In some instances they were successful, and in some they were repulsed with loss of life, while the police were able to effect a safe retreat. At the Tipperary side, two men were killed in the attack on the Glenbour barracks; and at the Waterford side, one man was shot at Portlaw in the assault on the police-barrack, and two in the attack on the Reverend Mr. Hill’s house. These repulses checked the ardour of the boldest, and gave rise to disunion and distrust. Meantime, the promised reinforcements from Kilkenny failed to redeem the pledge that was given in their name. A whole day and night passed, and no tidings of them arrived. Several of those who were loudest and most urgent left the camp. A very large force, however, remained; but after delaying two days without hearing of the Kilkenny men, they determined to disperse. The party at Portlaw adopted the same resolution, and O’Mahony and Savage had to shift for themselves. A reward was offered for O’Mahony, but he eluded his pursuers, and in a few days was beyond their reach. He embarked at Bonmahon in the county of Waterford and crossed to Wales, where he was concealed for some time until he found an opportunity of escaping to France. Savage, whose person was not much known, made his way to Dublin, whence he sailed for America direct.
The Kilkenny men arrived at Aheny on the morning after those under O’Mahony had dispersed and finding the place deserted, they immediately returned. This accident once more baffled all hope of a struggle. From beginning to end, some mischance marred every propitious circumstance that presented itself. It seemed as if the failure had been predestined. But to yield to such a fate, to abjure the great and true faith which the attempt of the last unhappy year quickened in the hearts of all men, would be distrust of God’s mercy and justice. In the struggle that preceded the outbreak a great victory was won. The most formidable power that ever fettered the consciences of men was struck to the earth. Truth, long lost sight of, was again restored as one of the great agencies of national deliverance and national elevation. The question between England and Ireland assumed its real character; and although huxtering politicians have since endeavoured to set up the honour of the island for sale, they have only been able to dispose of their own characters. The people have not debased themselves. In the lying homage to the Queen of England they took no part. They have preserved through the severest trials the old immortal yearning of their race, and the arms they had provided themselves with in ’48 they have guarded religiously, in the hope of using them on some day of brighter auspices and loftier destiny.
Early on Saturday the 22nd of July I left my pleasant home in Cullenswood, near Dublin, to which I was never to return. On reaching the city I found a telegraphic despatch from London had been just published, announcing the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and that the “extraordinary powers” to be conferred on the Lord Lieutenant would be forwarded to Dublin on the following Monday. It was contended on all hands that the hour for action or submission or flight for the Confederates was now come. Of “The Council of Five,” there were then in Dublin but three members. One is now in Van Diemen’s Land; the others were Mr. Dillon and myself. We had a hasty meeting in the old Council Rooms of the Irish Confederation. They decided to proceed that evening to Enniscorthy to advise with Smith O’Brien, and, as I understood, to proceed with him to the district between the Suir and the Shannon, and to operate from that basis according to circumstances and their own best judgment.
A gentleman had arrived in Dublin that morning with a proposition which decided my movements and led me into some singular situations.
He was a professional man, by birth an Irishman who had resided a long time in Scotland. He had one only son, two rifles, and £120 in money, which he brought as his offering to the country. He informed us that several hundred Irishmen in Scotland had been all the year preparing for this event, that they had a good share of arms and ammunition, and that if any plan could be devised to bring them into Ireland, they could be relied on for courage and endurance. I do not mention this gentleman’s name, because I do not know but he is still under the laws of England.
We perceived, on consultation, that if it were possible to land 400 or 500 staunch men in the north-west—say, at Sligo or Killala—where the Government were completely off their guard (all their anxieties being centred on the south), an important movement might follow in Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Mayo. It would be like hitting the enemy in the back of the head. It would necessarily draw off some of the forces from Munster, through the valley of the Upper Shannon, which, with its continuous chain of lake, bog and mountain frontier, would be difficult ground for the movements of a regular army.
It was necessary, as our informant said, that “someone with a name” should go over and concert with the Irishmen in Scotland the mode and time of action, and I was the only person at hand willing for that service. For my encouragement, Meagher assured me I would be “as famous as Paul Jones” if I got the men out of the Clyde, and Mr. Dillon suggested as a landing-place “the old ground, Killala.”
I cannot give the exact particulars of my movements while there. All who were in my confidence are still in Scotland, with the exception of Mr. Peter M’Cabe of Glasgow, now in the United States. I will only say that I visited and consulted our friends in four of the principal towns—Edinburgh included. I attended meetings of the clubs and in each instance instituted committees. I obtained in a few days a list of nearly 400 men, pretty well equipped, ready for the risk. A sub-committee surveyed the Broomielaw and the Clyde, and although their report was unfavourable to the attempt of getting out in one body, a gentleman, now in America, gained over the crew and officers of an Irish steamer to take us as passengers from Greenock where the tides in a few days would answer for departure about ten o’clock at night. The arms were to be previously shipped as merchandise or luggage, and the destination was to be Sligo.
These arrangements occupied from Tuesday till Friday of the last week of July. In the meanwhile, the London Journals arrived with news that O’Brien and his friends had been received with open arms in the south, and great excitement and suspicion of strangers arose in Scotland. In the Reading Room at Paisley I read myself in The Hue and Cry. One paper stated I was in Waterford, another said I was “revelling among the clubs in the Co. Dublin.” The Times did me the honour to couple me with Meagher, calling us “the two most dangerous men now abroad.” No one suspected my real locality.
On Friday I was in Edinburgh intending to return to Glasgow, when Mr. ——, accompanied by a friend suddenly joined me. I saw they were a good deal agitated. They told me a Scotch mechanic who had been formerly in Dublin had seen me in the streets of Glasgow opposite Wellington statue, and that the news was “all round town.” They added that the magistrates were in secret sitting, and as the writ of Habeas Corpus is unknown to the law of Scotland, I would be certainly arrested and summarily imprisoned if I returned. They were instructed to advise me to go to Ireland through the north of England, to prepare our friends in and about Sligo, and that they would complete the project which they had begun, and which was now in promising forwardness. I complied and Mr. —- handed me a purse, as a personal gift from the Committee. This purse contained twelve or thirteen sovereigns, the only public money I received in this enterprise. After purposely driving to the West of Scotland depot [railway terminus] we returned to the North British, and my friends saw me off a station or two on the way to Newcastle-on-Tyne. I slept that night in Newcastle.
Between Newcastle and Carlisle the next day (Saturday) I had for a fellow passenger the Rev. Thresham Greggwho was on a lecturing excursion against the Pope in the north of England. I had been introduced to him a year or two before and supposed he knew me. He certainly looked very hard at me from under his travelling-cap, with his half-shut cunning eyes. I had in my hand “Bradshaw’s Railway Guide,” which he asked to see. At the way stations he kept constantly inquiring the distance to Carlisle, and I sorely suspected he meant to “peach.” He did not, however, though I still think he must have known me.
In Carlisle I met at dinner two Dublin priests (one from Westland Row chapel). They were bound on a pleasure-trip for Loch Katrine and the Trossachs. They informed me that I was “proclaimed,” and seemed surprised at my returning. We parted very cordially and that night I went to Whitehaven where I had to wait over Sunday for the Belfast steamer.
On Tuesday morning I arrived in Belfast. Two policemen entered the cabin as I was leaving it, and having been at the meeting which occasioned the Hercules Street riot, I thought they would recognise me. They did not, however, and at 8 o’clock (after leaving a note for a dear and trusted friend of Mr. Duffy’s, to mark my whereabouts) I was safely embarked on the Ulster railway for Armagh. At Aughnacloy a detective gave me a light, and before I went to bed (in Enniskillen) had read the proclamations against the leaders of the Southern movement, on the gates of the Barrack. The next morning I reached Sligo by the Leitrim road.
This was Wednesday morning, August 2nd.
At the Hibernia Hotel, where I stopped as Mr. Kelly (my travelling baptism), I saw for the first time in ten days the Irish papers. The Dublin Freeman and Saunder’s News Letter were on the table. I read the list of the places where, and the clergymen by whom, the Southern movement had been “denounced,” on Sunday, July 23rd and Sunday, July 30th. The same papers contained Lord Clarendon’s wily letter to Archbishop Murray, offering to alter the statutes of the new colleges and to remodel the Bequests Bill so as to content the Catholic clergy, and artfully complimenting Pius IX. The game of the Government was clear—it was to separate the clergy from the people in the coming struggle.
The evening of my arrival in Sligo, I conferred with a few friends. The place chosen was “a shell house” in the demesne of Hazelwood on the shores of Lough Gill. Of those who formed that conference one at least, Mr. William M’Garahan, is now in America. We ascertained the garrison of Sligo to be but ninety men—the barrack to be surrounded by a common eight-foot wall, and the local authorities to be completely lulled to sleep. The circumstances were as favourable as could be expected.
But there never had been in Sligo or Leitrim any local Confederate or even “Repeal” organisation. The only local societies were secret—Molly Maguires and Ribbonmen. It was necessary to get into communication with them and late the next night Dr. ——, a Confederate, introduced me to one of their leaders, on a road which crosses a hill to the south of the town. This gentleman I found wary, resolute, and intelligent. He said: “I have no doubt of what you say, but I must have certain facts to lay before our district chiefs. At present we don’t know what to believe. One day we hear one thing—another, another. Bring us by this day week assurances that the South is going to rise or has risen, and we will raise two thousand before the week is out.” I agreed to do so and he in the meantime went to prepare his friends.
I returned to my confidants of the first conference and “reported progress.” It was rather difficult to find a trusty messenger. I volunteered to go myself, but they would not hear of it. At last a man who could be depended on was obtained, and, armed with certain passwords (unintelligible except to those for whom they were intended) he left to go through Roscommon and Westmeath into Tipperary by Borrisokane and Nenagh.
Simultaneously with this, agents went abroad in the country, and I, by the advice of the local leaders, went to lodge under Benbulben in the character of a Dublin student in search of health and exercise during the summer vacation. Within a week we expected to be openly arrayed against the authorities, and no man that I saw shrank from the prospect.
From my lodgings under Benbulben I made a visit to Bundoran to meet some friends from Donegal who were anxious to consult me as to the state of the county. By an odd chance I lodged in the same house with the stipendiary magistrate, Sir Thomas Blake, and had to go through his bedroom to my own. We met frequently but he was quite unsuspicious. He has, I find since, been dismissed from his office, after an ineffectual search for me through the county, a month from the time we had lived under the same roof.
While our messenger had gone south there arrived one from our friends in Scotland. Him I sent back the same night to expedite affairs there. In the meanwhile, on such maps as we had, my friends and I studied the roads and the formation of the country. There is in this part of Ireland a plateau of about twenty-five miles square of broken or mountainous ground. Of this district Ballinamore in Leitrim might be considered the centre; there are but three main roads leading through it—the Boyle road, the Red Lion road, and the Ballysodare road—which could all be easily rendered impassable, passing as they do over rapid streams, through narrow defiles or across extensive marshes. There is no great military depot within the district—Enniskillen, Athlone, and even Castlebar being within the spurs of the mountains. Sligo, its chief town was, as we saw, poorly garrisoned, and yet as a seaport of the second class it contained many things of the greatest use in a military movement—as lead, arms, canvas, tools, money, ships’ stores, breadstuffs, types for proclamations and even some small cannon. From three to five thousand men it was calculated, could be well-equipped and could maintain themselves for three months within this district, with tolerable prudence and exertion. Before the time expired we hoped to receive help and officers from abroad, and afterwards to be able to undertake greater things.
We could not but remember that this was the district chosen by Owen O’Neill after his arrival from Spain in 1645 and that it was here he “nursed up” by slow degrees the army which fought at Benburb, and which in Napoleon’s opinion, but for the premature death of Owen, would have checkmated Cromwell. The ground once chosen by a great general for its natural capabilities may safely be chosen again, and usually is, as in Hungary for instance. The very posts and battlefields held and fought by Bem and Dembinski were the same whereon Huniad and Corvinus, four and five hundred years ago, fought against the Turks and Bosmens. Thus we had the sanction of a great example and the stimulus of an inspiriting tradition to point to for the choice of the ground.
We had not long to wait for news from the South—it came of itself. On Saturday the 5th of August Mr. O’Brien was arrested in Thurles. His companions, it was said, were fled hither and thither; but, at all events, his arrest had proved that, at that time, the South would not rise in arms against the Government.
This was the interpretation universally put upon it in the north-west. It was in vain I said, “There are other men as brave and as good who are still free and from whom we will hear better news.” Those to whom I spoke were incredulous. Still I must do the people of the county the justice to say that in a meeting of their district-leaders at —— it was discussed for two successive nights with great animation whether or not the district should rise even then. The parties for and against a rising were nearly balanced, but the latter prevailed on the argument that unless it was general it would be fruitless.
For ten dismal days I remained in this neighbourhood, hoping against hope and endeavouring to make others do the same. The proposals I then made, the result of desperation, I will not repeat, for now, even to myself, I confess they look wild and extravagant. But I felt the whole futurity of shame that awaited us for abandoning the country without a blow. It was well advanced in August before I could persuade myself that no hope remained. The Treasurer of our Scotch Committee came to Ireland expressly to urge me to consult my own safety in flight, in which he was joined by the whole of my local associates. Successively arrived the news of Meagher, Leyne and MacManus being taken. Then indeed I knew “all was up.” Then, indeed, I felt the force of what I had long before prophesied—”What if we fail?” I resolved not to be taken if I could help it, and acted accordingly. After some personal adventures in Donegal and Derry (with which I will not trouble the reader) I saw the last of the Irish shore early in September, and on the 10th of October reached Philadelphia.
I close here with this reflection: Had I been transported or hanged, I have no doubt full justice would be done me, because it would be nobody’s interest to do me injustice. Had I kept silent, I might have lived an easy, prudent, reputable sort of life enough. But I established a journal on reaching America, and whereas my spine is not made of whalebone nor my conscience of indiarubber, I spoke the truth as I knew it in all things freely—thereby offending divers parties. This, I believe, could not be helped. After nearly a year of silence I have at last (in self-defence) written this narrative, of which I assure the readers they never would have heard a word from me, but that misrepresentations not to be borne demanded its publicity. Those who from want of information misrepresented me hitherto can do so no more; and those who, knowing these facts, yet wilfully maligned me, I have now deprived of the power to do me further injury. Truth is powerful, and this is truth.
Whereas we have received information that THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER, JOHN B. DILLON and MICHAEL DOHENY have been guilty of treasonable practices, now we the Lord Lieutenant being determined to bring the said THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER, JOHN B. DILLON and MICHAEL DOHENY to justice, do hereby offer a reward of
And we do hereby strictly charge and command all justices of the peace, mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, constables and all other of her Majesty’s loyal subjects to use their utmost-diligence in apprehending the said THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER, JOHN B. DILLON and MICHAEL DOHENY.
The official description of himself read by Thomas Darcy M’Gee was more accurate and less intentionally insulting than the official descriptions of most of his colleagues compiled in Dublin Castle and published in the Hue and Cry of July 27th, 1848. Probably no other official document issued to the public in the last hundred years by Dublin Castle has equalled this stupid malignity. “Sketches of Doheny and some of the Confederate leaders, modelled upon the descriptions of burglars and murderers, that ordinarily adorn the Hue and Cry were,” wrote Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, a generation later, “issued for the enjoyment of loyal persons.” The Freeman’s Journal of the day wrote that the public who were acquainted with the appearance of the gentlemen described will read with feelings of contempt the malignant effort to insult and wound the relatives of the men proscribed by the issue of a written caricature of their persons. This remarkable production of the genius and spirit of Dublin Castle, read as follows:—
WILLIAM SMITH O’BRIEN.—No occupation; forty-six years of age; six feet in height; sandy hair; dark eyes; sallow, long face; has a sneering smile constantly on his face; full whiskers; sandy; a little grey; well-set man; walks erect; dresses well.
THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER.—No occupation; twenty-five years of age; five feet nine inches; dark, nearly black hair; light blue eyes; pale face; high cheekbones; peculiar expression about the eyes; cocked nose; no whiskers; well-dressed.
MICHAEL DOHENY.—Barrister; forty years of age; five feet eight inches in height; fair or sandy hair; grey eyes; coarse red face like a man given to drink; high cheekbones; wants several of his teeth; very vulgar appearance; peculiar coarse unpleasant voice; dress respectable; small short red whiskers.
MICHAEL CREAN.—Shopman at a shoe-shop; thirty-five years of age; five feet eight inches; fair or sandy hair; grey eyes; full face; light whiskers; high fore-head; well-set person; dress, dark shooting frock or grey tweed, and grey tweed trousers.
FRANCIS MORGAN.—Solicitor; forty-three years of age; five feet eight inches in height; very dark hair; dark eyes; sallow broad face; nose a little cocked; the upper lip turns out when speaking; rather stout; smart gait; black whiskers.
PATRICK JAMES SMITH.—Studying for the bar; twenty-nine years of age; five feet nine inches in height; fair hair; dark eyes; fair delicate face and of weak appearance; long back; weak in his walk; small whiskers; clothing indifferent.
JOHN HETHERINGTON DRUMM.—Medical student; twenty years of age; five feet three inches in height; very black and curly hair; black eyes; pale delicate face; rather thin person; delicate appearance; no whiskers; small face and nose; dressed respectably; Methodist.
THOMAS D’ARCY M’GEE.—Connected with the Nation newspaper; twenty-three years of age; five feet three inches in height; black hair; dark face; delicate, pale, thin man; dresses generally black shooting coat, plaid trousers, light vest.
JOSEPH BRENNAN.—Sub-Editor of the Felon newspaper; five feet six inches in height; dark hair; dark eyes; pale, sallow face; very stout; round shoulders; Cork accent; no whiskers; hair on the upper lip; soft, sickly face; rather respectably dressed, a little reduced.
THOMAS DEVIN REILLY.—Sub-editor of the Felon newspaper; twenty-four years of age; five feet seven inches in height; sandy coarse hair; grey eyes; round freckled face; head remarkably broad at the top; broad shoulders; well-set; dresses well.
JOHN CANTWELL.—Shopman at a grocer’s; thirty-five years of age; five feet ten inches in height; sandy hair; grey eyes; fair face; good looking; short whisker, light; rather slight person, dresses … Supposed a native of Dublin.
STEPHEN J. MEANY.—Sub-editor of Irish Tribune; twenty-six years of age; five feet eleven inches in height; dark hair; full blue eyes; dark face; small whiskers growing under the chin; smart appearance; was a constable of the C Division of Police, discharged for dirty habits; stout person; generally dressed in black.
RICHARD O’GORMAN, Junior.—Barrister; thirty years of age; five feet eleven inches in height; very dark hair; dark eyes; thin long face; large dark whiskers; well-made and active; walks upright; dresses black frock coat, tweed trousers.
 After the merging of the Irish Confederation in the abortive Irish League, and the consequent dissolution of the Executive of the Confederation, a Council of Five was elected to direct the Confederate Clubs until the new organisation was perfected. The five elected were John Blake Dillon, Thomas Francis Meagher, Richard O’Gorman, Junior, Thomas D’Arcy M’Gee, and Thomas Devin Reilly. The five never met. O’Gorman was out of Dublin when the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended.
 The Rev. Thresham Gregg was a notorious and blatant “anti-Popery” preacher of the period whom the wits of Young Ireland frequently made the butt of their jests. Apart from his bigoted sectarian obsession, he was, however, in several respects decidedly nationalistic, and steadily preached support of home trade and manufactures to his audiences. There can be no reasonable doubt that he recognised M’Gee. In this connection it may be stated that the Orangemen expelled from membership of their body Stephenson Dobbyn, an Orangeman who acted as a spy for Dublin Castle upon the Young Irelanders—drawing a clear and proper line between forcibly opposing their fellow countrymen and acting as spies for England upon them.
 Hercules Street in Belfast, now swept away, was chiefly inhabited by butchers who were almost all Catholics and fervent O’Connellites. When the Young Irelanders attempted to hold a meeting in Belfast shortly after O’Connell’s death, the butchers made a fierce attack upon them.
 This narrative was written at the beginning of 1850
 Law Agent to the Dublin Corporation.
 Patrick Joseph Smyth
 Sub-editor of the Nation; afterwards a clergyman.
ANTISELL, DR. THOMAS.—A Dublin surgeon and chemist of distinction, author of various pamphlets and addresses to the Royal Dublin Society on the geology of Ireland, reafforestation, and the sanitary conditions of Irish town-life. He supplied a large part of the capital to found the Irish Tribune. After the failure of the insurrection he went to the United States where he had a distinguished scientific career.
BARRY, MICHAEL JOSEPH (1817-1889).—A Cork barrister, editor of “The Songs of Ireland” in the Library of Ireland, and author of several martial pieces, including “The Flag of Green.” After the failure of the insurrection he renounced Nationalism and subsequently became a Dublin Police Magistrate.
BARRETT, RICHARD (17— -1855).—Brother of Eaton Stannard Barrett of Cork, the once famous author of “All the Talents.” A journalist of fortune who changed sides with agility and enlisted under O’Connell in his latter years, having formerly vilified him.
BRENAN, JOSEPH (1828-1857).—The youngest of the Young Ireland leaders. Edited Fullam’s Irishman in 1849 and unsuccessfully attempted to revive the insurrection in Waterford and Tipperary. On his failure he emigrated to the United States and died in New Orleans.
BRYAN, MAJOR.—Of Raheny Lodge, Co. Dublin. Major Bryan acquired a moderate fortune in Tasmania and returned to Ireland where he joined the Repeal movement. He left Conciliation Hall with the Young Irelanders.
CAMPBELL, SIR JOHN (1779-1861).—Author of the “Lives of the Lord Chancellors.” A Scots Tory politician, raised to the peerage subsequent to his connection with Ireland, and finally Lord Chancellor of England.
CAVAIGNAC, LOUIS EUGENE (1802-1857).—One of the most distinguished of the French Generals in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. On the establishment of the second Republic he was appointed Minister for War, and when the “Reds” threatened its stability he was invested with the dictatorship and speedily crushed the insurrection. In the contest for the Presidency the glamour of Louis Napoleon’s name defeated Cavaignac. After Napoleon’s coup-d’etatCavaignac retired into private life. He had sympathies with Ireland, and in 1848 gave private assurances that in the event of an Irish insurrection winning initial successes, he would bring the influence of France to bear on England to force her to concede terms to Ireland.
CAVANAGH, JOHN.—President of the Fitzgerald Confederate Club, Harold’s Cross, Dublin. Wounded at Ballingarry, he was brought to Kilkenny, where he was concealed and cured by Dr. Cane, and later smuggled to France, whence he proceeded to the United States, became an officer in the army and was slain in the Civil War.
“CHRISTABEL” (1815-1881).—Miss M’Carthy, of Kilfademore House, Kenmare, afterwards Mrs. Downing. A Popular poetess of the period, usually using the nom-de-guerre of “Christabel.” Her best-known poem is “The Grave of MacCaura.” She assisted Doheny and Stephens to escape.
CLARENDON, EARL OF (1804-1870).—George Villiers, the fourth earl, according to his English biographers, represented the highest type of English politician and English gentleman. Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1846-1852. He hired the editor of an obscene journal in Dublin to publish libels upon the moral character of the Young Irelanders, and conducted the affairs of the country from March to June, 1848, under this man’s advice. He paid £3,400 for the services rendered and a demand for further payments led to a public disclosure of the facts. At the time Clarendon hired James Birch, Birch had completed a sentence of imprisonment for criminal libel.
CLEMENTS, EDWARD.—A barrister. One of O’Connell’s “tail” in Conciliation Hall. The attempt of O’Connell to provide “poor Ned Clements” with a Government situation precipitated the rupture with Young Ireland.
CONWAY, M.G.—A journalist of ability and no principle who followed the path of fortune. He professed ultra-Catholic views while O’Connell was in the ascendant. After O’Connell’s death he abjured Catholicism to ingratiate himself with the Ascendancy element.
CREAN, MICHAEL.—Like M.G. Conway, a Clare man, but of the opposite type. Crean worked in Dublin as a shopman and with Hollywood was one of the two trades-union leaders on the Council of the Confederation, where he opposed Mitchel’s policy. After the failure of the insurrection he went to the United States.
DAUNT, W.J. O’NEILL.—A Co. Cork gentleman, one of O’Connell’s first Protestant supporters in the Repeal Movement. He was elected for Mallow, but unseated. He ceased to attend Conciliation Hall after the rupture with the Young Irelanders. Many years later he took a prominent part in the Home Rule movement.
DAVIS, THOMAS (1814-1845).—The founder and inspiration of the Young Ireland movement. Son of an English father of Welsh descent and an Irish mother. From the inception of The Nation newspaper until his death he was the chief writer of that journal.
DILLON, JOHN BLAKE (1816-1866).—The close personal friend of Thomas Davis and with him one of the founders of the Nation. On his return from exile he attempted to found an Irish Party in alliance with the British Radicals and sat in the British Parliament for Tipperary.
DUFFY, CHARLES GAVAN (1816-1903).—One of the three founders of the Nation and its editor from 1842 to 1854, when he left Ireland for Australia where he became Prime Minister of Victoria. In 1873 he received a knighthood.
FERGUSON, SAMUEL (1810-1886).—A Belfast barrister and, save Edward Walsh, the most Gaelic of Irish poets in the English language. Ferguson took a leading part in the Protestant Repeal Association in 1848 and afterwards became one of the first of Irish archaeologists. In 1878 he was knighted.
FITZSIMON, CHRISTOPHER.—Son-in-law of Daniel O’Connell, elected to the British Parliament for Co. Dublin. He deserted Repeal to support the Government and was rewarded with the post of Clerk of the Hanaper. His desertion caused the representation of the Co. Dublin to revert to the Unionists for half-a-century.
GRAY, SIR JOHN (1815-1875).—A medical doctor and owner of the Freeman’s Journal, publicly supporting O’Connell, but personally in sympathy with Young Ireland. He sat in the British Parliament subsequently for Kilkenny and was an active member of the Dublin Corporation.
HALPIN, THOMAS M.—Secretary of the Confederation, and a Dublin working-man. According to Meagher he failed to transmit instructions to the Dublin Confederate Clubs to rise in insurrection in the streets of the capital when the fight opened in Tipperary. Halpin denied emphatically having received such orders. After the insurrection he made his way to the United States.
HOLLYWOOD, EDWARD.—A silk-weaver and, with Michael Crean, an artisan leader. He acted as treasurer of the Davis Confederate Club. Arrested in Wicklow with D’Arcy M’Gee for sedition, but the prosecution was abandoned. After the insurrection he escaped to France, and some years later returned to Dublin.
HUDSON, WILLIAM ELIOT (1797-1853).—Described by Thomas Davis as the best man and the best Irishman he ever knew. A man of fortune and culture who devoted his leisure and his wealth to helping every movement for the betterment of Ireland.
HUME, JOSEPH (1777-1855).—An English politician who sat in the British Parliament for English, Irish, and Scotch constituencies as Tory and later as Radical. Chief author of the Radical shibboleth, “Peace, Retrenchment and Reform.”
LALOR, JAMES FINTAN (1810-49).—Son of Patrick Lalor, M.P. of Queen’s Co. A vigorous writer whose agrarian doctrine was converted by Henry George into Land Nationalisation—which it was not. He contributed to the Nationand the Felon, 1847-8, and attempted an insurrectionary conspiracy, 1849.
LAMARTINE, ALPHONSE DE (1790-1869).—Minister for Foreign Affairs in the French Republican Government. The British Ministry through Lord Normanby threatened him with the possible rupture of diplomatic relations if he gave an encouraging reply to the Young Ireland deputation. Politically Lamartine was more of the school of the British Whigs of his period than of any native French school. His high character and literary abilities were held in deserved esteem by his countrymen, but as a man of affairs he was never really successful.
LEFROY, BARON (1776-1869).—One-time member for Trinity College in the British Parliament. Subsequent to 1848 promoted Lord Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench, and although he became incapable of discharging the office he refused to resign it until he had passed his ninetieth year.
LEYNE, MAURICE RICHARD (1820-1854).—The only member of the O’Connell family who identified himself with Young Ireland. He was an occasional contributor to the Nation from 1844 to 1848 and in June of that year, on the eve of the insurrection, formally joined Young Ireland. On the revival of the Nation in 1849 he joined Duffy in its editorship.
LOUIS NAPOLEON (1808-1873).—Son of the King of Holland, nephew of the great Napoleon, President of the second Republic and, after the coup d’etat and the plebescite, Emperor of France. Napoleon while in exile manifested some sympathy with Ireland, and as a member of the French Republic was, like Cavaignac, willing to intervene on this country’s behalf with England if the Young Irelanders had succeeded in winning initial engagements against the British forces in the field.
MACHALE, ARCHBISHOP (1791-1881).—”John of Tuam”—the greatest of the Irish prelates of his time. He was in partial sympathy with the Young Irelanders, but opposed to them on several educational questions.
MACNEVIN, THOMAS (1810-1848).—A leading Young Irelander and college friend of Davis. Author, in the Library of Ireland, of “The Confiscation of Ulster” and “The History of the Volunteers.”
MACMANUS, TERENCE BELLEW (1823-60).—A prosperous Irish merchant in Liverpool who relinquished his prosperity to join in the insurrection. He escaped from the British penal colonies to the United States and died there in poor circumstances.
MACLISE, DANIEL (1806-1870).—One of the first painters of his time. He refused the presidency of the British Royal Academy.
M’CARTHY, DENIS FLORENCE (1817-1882).—One of the chief poets of the Nation, afterwards Professor of English Literature in the Catholic University.
M’GEE, THOMAS DARCY (1825-1868).—Son of a coast-guard at Carlingford, Louth. M’Gee between the ages of seventeen and twenty won a remarkable reputation as a journalist in the United States and came back to Ireland to take up the editorship of the Freeman’s Journal, which he relinquished to join the Nation staff. After the failure in 1848 Bishop Maginn procured his escape to America disguised as a priest. M’Gee, Devin Reilly and Doheny quarrelled in the United States, and M’Gee’s political views gradually modified. He proceeded to Canada, entered politics, and became one of the first statesmen of the dominion and a member of the Government. In that position he was continually attacked by a section of the Irish as a renegade, and the bitterness of his replies inflamed feeling. In April, 1868, he was assassinated by an alleged Fenian. Local and sectional political hatreds appear, however, to have had more to do with the murder of M’Gee than his virulent denunciations of the Fenians.
MAGINN, EDWARD, D.D. (1802-1849).—Son of a farmer at Fintona, Tyrone, Dr. Maginn entered the Church and speedily became noted for his vigour of intellect and strength of character. In 1845 he was appointed coadjutor-Bishop of Derry, and created Bishop of Ortosia in the Archbishopric of Tyre. A strong advocate of Repeal and tenant-right, he gradually attorned to the Young Irelanders when he discovered that the Whig Government had bought up Conciliation Hall. In 1848 he sent Sir John Gray to Gavan Duffy offering to take the field at the head of the priests of his diocese if the insurrection were held back until the harvest had been reaped. The sudden suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, however, forced the Young Irelanders’ hands two months too soon.
MARTIN, JOHN (1812-1875).—A landed proprietor of Co. Down. On his return from transportation, he re-entered Irish politics; was elected in 1870 to the British Parliament, for Meath, and played a leading part in founding the Home Rule movement.
MEAGHER, THOMAS FRANCIS (1823-67).—Son of the O’Connellite member of the British Parliament for Waterford. He escaped from the British Penal colonies to the United States in 1852 and served as Brigadier-General on the Federal side during the civil war. When Acting-Governor of Montana he was drowned in the Mississippi.
MEANY, STEPHEN JOSEPH.—A journalist, imprisoned in 1848 under the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act. In the United States he became a leader of one of the wings of the Fenian Brotherhood and, returning to Ireland in 1866, he was arrested on the way in London and sentenced to a term of penal servitude.
MILEY, JOHN, D.D. (1805-1861).—Curate at the Catholic Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, and private chaplain to O’Connell. He was the intermediary in arranging the reunion of the O’Connellites with the Young Irelanders in the stillborn Irish League. In 1849 he was made Rector of the Irish College at Paris. On his return to Ireland he was appointed parish priest of Bray. He was an eloquent preacher, and author of several works on the Papacy.
MITCHEL, JOHN (1818-75).—A solicitor of Banbridge, and one of the first Irish Protestants of note to join the Repeal Association. From the death of Davis until the end of 1847 he was the chief writer of the Nation newspaper. On his escape from the British penal colonies in 1853 he settled in the United States, and took an active part on the Confederate side in the civil war. He returned to Ireland a few months before his death, and was elected member of the British Parliament for Tipperary, as a demonstration of hostility to British Government in Ireland.
MOORE, JUDGE.—Richard Moore, called to the Bar in 1807, acted for the defence in the trial of O’Connell and the Traversers, Liberal Attorney-General in 1846 and “almost Lord Chancellor.” He was raised to the Bench in 1847 and died in 1858.
O’CONNELL, DANIEL (1775-1847).—Successor to John Keogh in the leadership of the Irish Catholics, and although his actual achievements were not so much greater than those of Keogh and Sweetman, their brilliancy threw the fame of his predecessors into the shade, where it still rests.
O’CONNELL, MORGAN JOHN (1804-85).—Second son to Daniel O’Connell. He served under General Devereux in South America, entered the British Parliament as a Repealer, deserted Repeal, and was appointed Assistant-Registrar of Deeds.
O’DOHERTY, KEVIN IZOD (1823-1895).—Son of a Dublin solicitor. After his release from transportation he settled in Australia and became prominent in its politics and medical science. In 1885 he returned temporarily to Ireland, and sat for a brief period in the British Parliament as Parnellite member for Meath.
O’DONNELL, JOHN.—A Limerick solicitor and an ardent Young Irelander. When Richard O’Gorman came to Limerick to urge the people to arms, O’Donnell travelled through the county with him as his aide-de-camp. On the news of the outbreak in Tipperary, O’Donnell, Doyle and Daniel Harnett raised the country around Abbeyfeale, cut off the mails and pitched an insurgent camp outside the town where the Abbeyfeale men waited for O’Gorman, who was elsewhere in the county, to take command. Before his arrival the news of the collapse at Ballingarry arrived and the Abbeyfeale Camp broke up. O’Donnell escaped from the country with O’Gorman.
O’GORMAN, RICHARD, JUN. (1826-1895).—Son of Richard O’Gorman of the Woollen Hall, one of the foremost Dublin merchants and Catholic leaders in the Emancipation struggle. O’Gorman settled in New York after his escape and became a judge of the Superior Court.
O’MAHONY, JOHN (1816-1877).—A gentleman-farmer of ancient lineage and high scholarship. After the second attempt to kindle insurrection he fled to the Continent and later proceeded to the United States, where with Doheny and Stephens he founded Fenianism.
PEEL, SIR ROBERT (1788-1850).—Chief Secretary for Ireland and organiser of the “new police”—hence “peelers.” In politics an opportunist, opposing and supporting Catholic Emancipation and Free Trade. Premier of England, 1834-5, 1841-6.
PIGOT, JOHN E. (1822-1871).—Eldest son of Chief Baron Pigot and the intimate comrade of Thomas Davis. Author of many ballads and articles in the Nation and other National journals, and an ardent collector of Irish music.
REILLY, THOMAS DEVIN (1823-1854).—One of the Nation staff and one of the few leading Young Irelanders who supported Mitchel on the division in the Confederation in 1848. In the United States he won a foremost position as a political writer.
RUSSELL, LORD JOHN (1792-1878).—Liberal Prime Minister of England, 1846-52, and again, 1865. He successfully opposed Lord George Bentinck’s proposal to preserve the Irish from famine and pauperism by undertaking the construction of railways.
SAVAGE, JOHN (1828-1888).—One of the founders of the Irish Tribune. After the complete failure of the insurrection, he escaped to the United States where he became eminent in literature and for a time head of the Fenian movement.
SHIELDS, JAMES, GENERAL (1807-1879).—Born near Dungannon, Shields emigrated in early life to the United States, where he attained distinction in journalism and subsequently celebrity as a lawyer. On the outbreak of war with Mexico, he forsook the Bar for arms, and as a soldier acquired even higher renown. In 1848 he was chosen as governor of Oregon, and was considered one of the ablest of the United States Generals. His political views being in sympathy with the Young Irelanders, several of them looked towards Shields as another Eoghan Ruadh, who would accept the call of his country and return to lead the Irish once they had taken the field. Subsequently Shields engaged in the Civil War on the Northern side, and, although a comparatively old man, distinguished himself by defeating General Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of Winchester, although his army was inferior in numbers and he had been wounded at the opening of the fight.
SMYTH, P.J. (1826-1885).—One of the youngest of the Young Ireland leaders. He escaped from Ireland to the United States after the collapse of the insurrection, and carried out the rescue of Mitchel from Van Diemen’s Land. On his return to Ireland he re-entered politics, and sat in the British Parliament successively for Westmeath and Tipperary.
STAUNTON, MICHAEL.—Proprietor of the Morning Register newspaper and an alderman of the Dublin Corporation. His memory survives as the involuntary agent of bringing Duffy and Davis together—and thus leading to the foundation of The Nation.
WILLIAMS, RICHARD DALTON (1822-1862).—One of the most popular of the poets of the Nation. The Government prosecution failed in his case, and he emigrated to the United States where he became Professor of Belles Lettres in the University of Mobile.
WYSE, SIR THOMAS (1791-1862).—One of O’Connell’s lieutenants in the Catholic Association, of which he wrote a history. He declined to support Repeal, but favoured what is now known as Federal Home Rule, served as a Lord of the Treasury in Melbourne’s administration, and afterwards for many years as British minister at Athens. He was a man of superior character to the ordinary type of place-seekers, and his writings won him a temporary European reputation.
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