Terence Bellew MacManus

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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MacManus, Terence Bellew, a distinguished Young Irelander, was born in Ireland probably about 1823. At the time of the Young Ireland agitation in 1848 he was in business as a shipping agent in Liverpool. In the summer of that year he threw up everything, managed to give the detectives the slip in Dublin, joined Smith O'Brien at Killenaule, and shared the fortunes of the small band of insurgents until their dispersion at Ballingarry. The following is Smith O'Brien's experience of him: "My acquaintance with him commenced at the time of the Repeal agitation, and was developed by the events of 1848. When he learned that I had called upon the people of Ireland to take up arms in resistance to the manifold oppressions which the people of Ireland at that time endured, he hastened to the scene of action, and assuredly the result of our efforts would have been very different from that which we experienced if an Irish army could have been formed consisting of such men as Terence Bellew MacManus. Intrepidity which knew no fear — resolution of purpose, directed by intelligence, and accompanied by promptitude of action and by personal prowess — these were the qualities which he displayed during the few days which we spent in Tipperary — qualities which, if our struggle had been sustained even for a few months, would have placed the name of MacManus in the catalogue of those warriors whose deeds have given to our country the fame of heroism."[233]

When all hope was over, he was for a time concealed by the peasantry, and then managed to make his way to Cork, and was on board a vessel in the harbour about to sail, when he was arrested. On 9th October 1848 he was brought to trial for high treason at Clonmel, found guilty, and condemned to death. His sentence was ultimately commuted to transportation for life. He was sent to Tasmania, whence he escaped to California, 5th June 1851. His friend Meagher wrote of his Californian life: "Arriving in San Francisco, MacManus resumed his old business. But in a new country it had to be conducted in a new way — more boldly, perhaps, and less scrupulously, but with results less positive and legitimate — and this his sterling mind would not bend to, trained as it had been to the more prudent, correct, and certain mercantile system which prevails in Europe. It was all strange to him, he said to me, all wrong, wild, hazardous, false, and desperate; and he would have nothing to do with it. Hence his days in California were days of poverty, and his proud face that once was full of light, and light alone, now had heavy shadows crossing it at times." He died about nine years after his arrival in California; and his remains were conveyed to Ireland, and buried in Glasnevin, 10th November 1861. His funeral was made the occasion of a great nationalist demonstration.

Sources

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

308. Speeches from the Dock: Alexander M. Sullivan. Dublin, 1868.

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