William Michael Byrne

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Byrne, William Michael, of Park Hill, County of Wicklow, a prominent United Irishman, was one of the Leinster Directory arrested at Bond's, in Dublin, on 12th March 1798. He was brought to trial, and convicted of high treason upon the evidence of Reynolds. It is said that his life was offered to him if he would give evidence implicating Lord Edward FitzGerald, but he indignantly spurned the suggestion, declaring that he had no regret in dying but not leaving his country free. Hopes were still entertained that his life might be spared, on account of the negotiations then pending between the Government and the state prisoners; but "on the morning of the 28th"

[July 1798], says Mr. Madden, "he was sitting at breakfast in Bond and Neilson's cell (the wives of the latter being then present), when the jailer appeared, and beckoned to Byrne to come to the door and speak with him. Byrne arose, a few words were whispered into his ear: he returned to the cell, and apologised to the ladies for being obliged to leave them. Bond asked him if he would not return; and his reply was, 'We will meet again.' He went forth without the slightest sign of perturbation or concern, and was led back for a few minutes to his cell, and then conducted to the scaffold. On passing the cell of Bond and Neilson, which he had just left, he stooped, that he might not be observed through the grated aperture in the upper part of the door, in order that Mrs. Neilson and Mrs. Bond might be spared the shock of seeing him led to execution." He met his death with perfect fortitude.

Sources

329. United Irishmen, their Lives and Times: Second Series: Robert R. Madden, M.D. 2 vols. London, 1843.

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