The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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people, and on whom they would rely, to turn back the crowds upon all the roads by which they were likely to come in. All that Saturday night their exertions were unremitting; and the good Father Tyrrell, whose parishioners, swarming in from Fingal, would have made a large part of the meeting, by his exertions and fatigue that night, fell sick and died. The meeting was prevented. The troops were marched out, and drawn up on the beach and on the hill; the artillery was placed in a position to rake the place of meeting, and the cavalry ready to sweep it; but they met no enemy.

Within a week, O'Connell and eight others were held to bail to take their trial for "conspiracy and other misdemeanors."

If I am asked what would have been the very best thing O'Connell could do on that day of Clontarf—I answer: To let the people of the country come to Clontarf—to meet them there himself, as he had invited them—but, the troops being almost all drawn out of the city, to keep the Dublin Repealers at home, and to give them a commission to take the Castle and all the barracks, and to break down the canal bridge and barricade the streets leading to Clontarf. The whole garrison and police were 5000. The city had a population of 250,000. The multitudes coming in from the country would, probably, have amounted to almost as many; and that handful of men between ------! There would have been a horrible slaughter of the unarmed people without, if the troops would fire on them—a very doubtful matter—and O'Connell himself might have fallen. It were well for his fame if he had; and the deaths of five or ten thousand that day might have saved Ireland the slaughter, by famine, of an hundred times as many; a carnage of which I have yet to give the history.

The "Government," as they called themselves,—but, as I choose to call them, the enemy,—were much delighted with the success, even so far as it was a success, of their first blow. They had prevented the meeting, and that by a display of force. Next, they proceeded with great ostentation to prepare for the State Trials of the "Conspirators."

O'Connell, on his side, laughed both at the "Clontarf War " and at the State Trials. He seemed well pleased with them both. The one proved how entirely under discipline were the virtuous, and sober, and loyal people, as he called them. The other would show how wisely he had steered the agitation through the rocks and shoals of law. In this he would have been perfectly right, his legal position would have been impregnable, but. for two circumstances. First, "Conspiracy," in ...continue reading »

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Page 40

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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