Daniel O'Connell's Kilkenny Meeting - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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Admiral is coming down the Grand Canal to examine all the turf-boats, and look into their potato-lockers to try if they have any hidden cannon on board. . . . And a lieutenant of the navy has been sent by the fly-boat on the Royal Canal to find out what became of the army of 15,000 men that the Rev. Mr O'Higgins had hid in his back parlour!"

The Kilkenny meeting, like all the other meetings, dispersed in perfect order and tranquillity; but O'Connell pledged them to come back to that spot whenever he might want them.

Undoubtedly this sort of procedure from week to week, and O'Connell's ridicule and vituperation, poured out upon every one who opposed "the repeal," was extremely provoking to the government and their party; yet no great progress was made. O'Connell, indeed, knew the law: he knew how far he could go with safety; and the people had full confidence that he would accomplish all he promised, "without the shedding of a drop of blood;" but all the while the enemy was in actual occupation and full possession of the whole country, its revenues and resources; and intended so to continue. Some of our friends about the Nation office began to ask themselves how long this was to go on. When all Ireland shall have paraded itself at monster meetings, they said, what then? What next?

Notwithstanding the very resolute countenance shown by the government, however, O'Connell still believed that they must yield at last, as they had done upon the Catholic Emancipation question; and, certainly, the impetus and volume which his movement was daily acquiring, would have seemed to make almost anything possible to him who wielded such a wondrous machine. He moved to tears, or convulsed with laughter, or excited to suppressed rage, hundreds of thousands of people every week; and his loud defiance to the Saxon made men's hearts burn within them as they prayed that he would only give them the word.

One of his great meetings was at Baltinglass, in Wicklow county. The proprietor of most of the land thereabouts was Lord Wicklow: and his lordship had posted over his estate a placard exhorting, or almost commanding, his tenants to stay home at their work, and not to be flocking to a meeting "only to minister to the vanity of an individual." They all disobeyed; and O'Connell, when he rose up to address them, opened a copy of the placard. He read it, and the hills re-echoed the laughter of a hundred and fifty thousand throats. "I know whom he means by an individual," he exclaimed. "He means me. Individual in his teeth! I'm no more an individual than Lord Wicklow's mother!" ...continue reading »

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