William Smith O'Brien in Callan - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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clergy, as a body, were found on the side of the enemy. They hoped more for their Church in a union with monarchial and aristocratic England than in an Ireland revolutionized and republican; and having taken their part, they certainly did the enemy's business well.

It is plain, then, against what desperate odds O'Brien and his friends took the field. The utter failure to make, I do not say a revolution, but even insurrection, cannot be understood without explaining all these elements of the problem which had arisen to be solved. On the 24th of July, O'Brien and Meagher came to the small town of Callan; marched to the Market-house; found it occupied by a party of the 8th Hussars.

"At the moment we entered, they were busy cleaning their bridles, saddles, carbines, sword-belts, and other accoutrements. Seeing the crowd approach the Market-house, some of them were for starting off, at first, and leaving the position in the hands of the 'enemy.'

"I told them there was no necessity for their leaving the building; that no advantage would be taken of them; that their arms were just as safe there as they would be in Dublin Castle; perhaps more so.

"'We know that, sir,' replied the young corporal, 'we know well you wouldn't take an unfair advantage of the poor soldiers; at any rate you wouldn't do it to the Irish Huzzars.'

"'Three cheers,' I cried out, going to the door, and calling upon the people,' three cheers, boys, for the 8th Royal Irish Huzzars!"

The Hussars would probably have loved them much better if they had at once taken the arms and horses of the first troops they encountered, and proceeded to the next town.

A day or two afterwards, at Carrick-on-Suir:—

"A torrent of human beings, rushing through lanes and narrow streets; surging and boiling against the white basements that hemmed it in; whirling in dizzy circles, and tossing up its dark waves, with sounds of wrath, vengeance, and defiance; clenched hands, darting high above the black and broken surface, and waving to and fro, with the wildest confusion, in the air; eyes, red with rage and desperation, starting and flashing upwards through the billows of the flood; long tresses of hair—disordered, drenched and tangled—streaming in the roaring wind of voices, and, as in a shipwreck, rising and falling with the foam; wild, half-stifled, passionate, frantic prayers of hope; invocations, in sobs, and thrilling waitings, and piercing cries, to the God of heaven, His Saints, and the Virgin Mary; challenges to the foe; curses on the Red Flag; scornful, exulting, delirious defiance of death; all wild as the winter gusts at sea, yet as black and fearful too; this is what I then beheld—these the sounds I heard—such the dream which passed before me!

"It was the REVOLUTION, if we had accepted it.

"Why it was not accepted, I fear, I cannot with sufficient accuracy explain." ...continue reading »

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