The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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CHAPTER XXIII.

ARREST OF O'BRIEN; OF MEAGHER; OF MACMANUS, ETC.—EXCUSE FOR MORE JURY-PACKING—EXCITEMENT IN ENGLAND—TRIAL OF CHARTISTS—SPECIAL COMMISSION IN CLONMEL—TRIAL OF O'BRIEN FOR HIGH TREASON—SENTENCE OF DEATH—TRIALS OF MACMANUS, O'DONOGHUE, AND MEAGHER—COMMUTATION OF THE SENTENCES OF DEATH—PLAN FOR A NEW "PLANTATION OF IRELAND"—SYSTEMATIC VILIFICATION OF THE CELTIC IRISH BY ENGLISH WRITERS.

FROM the first moment that the Repeal of the Habeas Corpus Act placed the liberties of all Irishmen at the disposal of Lord Clarendon, the police received secret orders to arrest all leading Confederates, both in town and country. A return was, in the beginning of the next year, 1849, made to Parliament of the number of persons, and their names, who were imprisoned under that law. There were 118 of them; including most of the very men on whom O'Brien might reasonably have relied to sustain his movement. They were all imprisoned in various gaols, without any charge, or one word of explanation; removed in batches from one prison to some other in a distant part of the island, with no other object, apparently, but to exhibit them in chains and strike a wholesome terror into all spectators.

After O'Brien's party had dispersed at Ballingarry, he seemed no longer to value his life, and used no means to escape or conceal himself. He went openly to the railroad station at Thurles, where he was immediately pointed out to the police—pointed out, as he himself believes, by a member of the Committee of the Confederation, a creature who appears to have some time before sold himself to the enemy.* Meagher, Leyne and O'Donoghue were soon captured also; MacManus, after having almost escaped in an American ship, was at length taken. Dillon, O'Gorman, Reilly and Doheny, all escaped out of the island, though long and closely pursued. I was, for months before, safe in my cell at Bermuda; Martin, Duffy, Williams, and O'Doherty, were all in their Newgate dungeon awaiting trial. Nobody was left at large over all the island, capable of initiating a bold movement; and indeed, the ...continue reading »


* His name is John Donnellan Balfe. His reward was a colonial appointment under the government, in the very distant colony of Van Diemen's Land, where the evil odour of his crime could not annoy the more reputable servants of the government by too close association.

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Page 202

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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