Clontarf Meeting - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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And the Morning Chronicle, speaking of the Act of "Union," said:

"True, it was coarsely and badly done; but stand it must. A Cromwell's violence, with Machiavelli's perfidy, may have been at work; but the treaty, after all, is more than parchment."

The first bolt launched, then, was the Proclamation to prevent the meeting at Clontarf. I have mentioned that the Proclamation was posted in Dublin shortly before dusk on Saturday. But long before that time thousands of people from Meath, Kildare, and Dublin counties were already on their way to Clontarf. They all had confidence in O'Connell's knowledge of law; and he had often told them (and it was true) that the meetings, and all the proceedings at them, were perfectly legal: and that a proclamation could not make them illegal. They would, therefore, have most certainly flocked to the rendezvous in the usual numbers, even if they had seen the Proclamation.

Readers may not fully understand the object of the Privy Council in keeping back their Proclamation to so late an hour on Saturday, seeing that the meeting had been many days announced; and they might as well have issued their command earlier in the week. Some may also be at a loss to understand why the Proclamation called not only upon all Magistrates and civil and military officers to assist in preventing the assembly, but also "all others whom it might concern." They meant to take O'Connell by surprise—so that he might be unable to prevent the assembly entirely, or to organize it (if such were his policy) for defence—and thus they would create confusion and a pretext for an onslaught, or "salutary lesson." Besides, they had already made up their minds to arrest O'Connell and several others, and subject them to a State Prosecution; and the Crown lawyers were already hard at work getting up a case against him. It is quite possible that they intended (should O'Connell go to Clontarf in the midst of such confusion and excitement) to arrest him then and there; which would have been certainly resisted by the people; and so there would have been a riot; and everything would have been lawful then. As to the "others whom it might concern," that meant the Orange Associations of Dublin, and everybody else who might take the invitation to himself. "Others whom it may concern! Why, this is intended for, and addressed to, Tresham Gregg and his auditory!" [said O'Connell.] Thus the enemy had well provided for confusion, collision, and "a salutary lesson."

O'Connell and the Committee did, perhaps, the best thing possible in that exigency, except one. He issued another proclamation, and sent it off by parties of gentlemen known to the ...continue reading »

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