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

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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Duffy, and, above all, Davis—had the effect of urging and goading O'Connell forward. He could not ignore, nor combat, the spirit they were arousing in the masses; he saw and appreciated their power in kindling the fine enthusiasm of our cultivated youth; and felt himself obliged to raise his own tone in accord with them. Yet he loved them not. Such men are dangerous; and he would have been much better content to have around him only his own humble dependants, expectant barristers, paid inspectors of Repeal Wardens, and poor Tom Steele, once a noble gentleman and soldier, then a ruined wreck, solemn sesquipedalian buffoon, and “Head Pacificator” to the Liberator.

We approach the end of the monster meetings. Neither England nor Ireland could bear this excitement much longer. The two grandest and most imposing of these parades were at Tara and Mullaghmast; both in the province of Leinster, within a short distance of Dublin; both conspicuous, the one in glory, the other in gloom, through past centuries, and haunted by ghosts of kings and chiefs.

On the great plain of Meath, not far from the Boyne river, rises a gentle eminence, in the midst of a luxuriant farming country. On and around its summit are still certain mouldering remains of earthen mounds and moats, the ruins of the "House of Cormac" and the "Mound of the Hostages," and the Stone of Destiny. It is Temora of the Kings. On Tuesday morning, the 15th of August, most of the population of Meath, with many thousands from the four counties round, were pouring along every road leading to the hill. Numerous bands, banners, and green boughs, enlivened their march, or divided their ordered squadrons. Vehicles of all descriptions, from the handsome private chariot to the Irish jaunting-car, were continually arriving, and by the Wardens duly disposed around the hill. In Dublin, the "Liberator," after a public breakfast, set forth at the head of a cortege, and his progress to Tara was a procession and a triumph. Under triumphal arches, and amidst a storm of music and acclamations, his carriage passed through the several little towns that lay in his way. At Tara the multitudes assembled were estimated in the Nation at 750,000; an exaggeration, certainly. But they were at least 350,000. Their numbers were not so impressive as their order and discipline; nor these so wonderful as the stifled enthusiasm that uplifted them above the earth. They came, indeed, with naked hands; but the Agitator knew well that if he had invited them they would have come still more gladly with extempo- ...continue reading »

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