Nine Famous Irishmen

This post is perhaps a legend with some facts interspersed. The reason I like it so much is it speaks to the tremendous pride the Irish have for people who stand up to tyranny.

During the Irish potato famine (1845-49), the British government’s inaction and the evictions by the landlords of the Catholic tenant farmers turned many of the poor Catholic farmers to form groups to protect themselves against the British rule. Inspired by the French Revolution and other uprisings across Europe, the Irish organized a protest. In July 1848, the British introduced martial law and continued their oppression of the poor in Ireland.

The story passed on to me and many Irish was called the “Nine Famous Irishmen.” I share this with you so you can get a glimpse of the Irish and their indomitable spirit.

Nine Famous Irishmen 
In the Young Irish disorders, in Ireland in 1848 the following nine men were captured, tried, and convicted of treason against Her Majesty, the Queen, and were sentenced to death: John Mitchell, Morris Lyene, Pat Donahue, Thomas McGee, Charles Duffy, Thomas Meagher, Richard O’Gorman, Terrence McManus, Michael Ireland. 
Before passing sentence, the judge asked if there was anything that anyone wished to say. Meagher, speaking for all, said: “My lord, this is our first offense but not our last. If you will be easy with us this once, we promise, on our word as gentlemen, to try to do better next time. And next time – sure we won’t be fools to get caught.” 
Thereupon the indignant judge sentenced them all to be hanged by the neck until dead and drawn and quartered. Passionate protest from all the world forced Queen Victoria to commute the sentence to transportation for life to far wild Australia. 
In 1874, word reached the astounded Queen Victoria that the Sir Charles Duffy who had been elected Prime Minister of Australia was the same Charles Duffy who had been transported 25 years before. On the Queen’s demand, the records of the rest of the transported men were revealed and this is what was uncovered: 
TERRENCE MCMANUS, Brigadier General, United States Army
PATRICK DONAHUE, Brigadier General, United States Army
RICHARD O’GORMAN, Governor General of Newfoundland
MORRIS LYENE, Attorney General of Australia, in which office
MICHAEL IRELAND succeeded him

THOMAS D’ARCY MCGEE, Member of Parliament, Montreal, Minister of
Agriculture and President of Council Dominion of Canada

JOHN MITCHELL, prominent New York politician. This man was the father of John Purroy Mitchell, Mayor of New York, at the outbreak of World War I

So there you have it. Legend or fact? I first learned of this story when visiting a tavern in Boston, Massachusetts called Roisin Dubh, or the Black Rose. It fascinated me then and still does today. You can check and other sites to see the truth or legend of this story. The one thing that is true is that the Irish are great storytellers. :)


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