The Galway Election of 1847 - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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Concerning this Birch, I will only add, that he was subsequently employed and paid by Lord Palmerston also, for the same sort of services.

A third measure of the Viceroy was,—extreme liberality towards Catholic lawyers and gentlemen in the distribution of patronage; that so they might be the more effectually bought off from all common interest and sympathy with the "lower orders," and might stand patiently by and see their countrymen slain or banished. Amongst others, Mr Monahan, an industrious and successful Catholic barrister, was made Attorney-General for Ireland,—from which the next step was to the Bench. Mr Monahan became a grateful and useful servant.

Next came the Galway election. It was essential that Mr Monahan, being Attorney-General, should be also a Member of Parliament;and there was a vacancy in Galway city. The Repealers resolved to contest it; and Mr Anthony O'Flaherty, a gentleman of Galway county, addressed the electors. It was resolved not only to contest this election with the Whig Attorney-General, but to fight it with the utmost vehemence and bitterness, in order to show the world how the "amelioration" Whig Government was appreciated in Ireland. But though nine-tenths of the people of Galway were Repealers, we knew that the enemy had great advantages in the struggle: because, in the first place, any amount of money would be at their command for bribery; and next, the landlords of the city and of the rural districts around were principally of the sort called "Catholic gentry,"—the very worst class, perhaps, of the Irish aristocracy.

The "Irish Confederation" sent down a number of its members to give gratuitous aid to Mr O'Flaherty's law-agents and Committee. These were Dillon, Meagher, O'Gorman, Doheny, Barry, O'Donoghue, Martin O'Flaherty, and John Mitchel. In the depth of winter we travelled to Galway, through the very centre of that fertile island, and saw sights that will never wholly leave the eyes that beheld them:—cowering wretches, almost naked in the savage weather, prowling in turnip-fields, and endeavouring to grub up roots which had been left, but running to hide as the mail-coach rolled by: very large fields, where small farms had been "consolidated," showing dark bars of fresh mould running through them, where the ditches had been levelled:—groups and families, sitting or wandering on the high-road, with failing steps and dim, patient eyes, gazing hopelessly into infinite darkness; before them, around them, above them, nothing but darkness and despair: parties of tall, brawny men, once the flower of Meath and Galway, stalking ...continue reading »

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