Meagher and O'Brien at Killenaule - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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The explanation is various. With what passionate enthusiasm soever this devoted band was at first welcomed, whether in city or country, the Catholic clergy (for which may God forgive them!) if they had recommended but a few hours before any decisive action, took care to cool it off, and succeeded in frightening the simple people. Then the people themselves were unprovided generally with arms and food; there was neither chest nor commissariat. Then, O'Brien resolutely refused to supply this want by the only resource in his power; refused to commence a struggle which he felt to be for man's dearest rights by attacking and plundering the estates and mansions of the gentry,—who, however, were then generally fortified and barricaded in their own houses, to hold the country for the enemy.

For several days he went from place to place, attended by his friends, followed sometimes by two or three hundred people, half-armed, always expecting to meet a party with a warrant for his arrest, in which case it would be war, both defensive and offensive, to the last extremity. All around him were country mansions of nobles and gentlemen who had openly avowed themselves (in their "Addresses of Confidence") for the English, and against their own people, and who had publicly branded him as a rebel, and offered their lives and fortunes for the work of crushing him: and he, an outlaw, with arms in his hands, and a force gathering around him burning to begin the work—would not molest a single enemy, nor even exact contributions from them to feed his followers and hold them together. All this was resolved and done from the purest and most conscientious motives, undoubtedly; but it would have been much purer and more conscientious to make the people dip their hands deep at once in British blood, and beckon the nation to arms by the light of the blazing castles of Tipperary's exterminating landlords.

Another day we find them at the village of Killenaule. O'Brien and his few followers being then quartered in the place, news was brought that a party of dragoons was approaching. A primitive barricade was hastily thrown up across the village street, made of carts and rubbish; and Dillon commanded at the barricade. Mr O'Brien's order was absolute—to let the dragoons pass on unless they carried a warrant to arrest some of the party. The officer rode up, and demanded passage. Dillon replied that he commanded there for O'Brien; and, if the officer would give his word of honour that he had no warrants for arrest, he might pass. As the officer imperiously demanded passage, Stephens suddenly raised his rifle and covered him: his finger was on the trigger: one moment, and Ireland was in insurrection. But Dillon ...continue reading »

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