Prosecution of Daniel O'Connell - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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Ireland, means anything the Castle Judges wish: second, the Castle Sheriff was quite sure to pack a Castle jury;—so that whatever the Castle might desire, the jury would affirm on oath, "so help them God!" The Jury System in Ireland I shall have occasion more than once to expound hereafter.

For the next eight months, that is, until the end of May, 1844 the State Prosecution was the grand concern around which all public interest in Ireland concentrated itself. The prosecuted "Conspirators" were nine in number—Daniel O'Connell; his son, John O'Connell, M.P., for Kilkenny; Charles Gavan Duffy, Editor of the Nation; the Rev. Mr Tyrrell, of Lusk, county Dublin (he died while the prosecution was pending); the Rev. Mr Tierney, of Clontibret, county Monaghan; Richard Barret, Editor of the Pilot, Dublin; Thomas Steele, "Head Pacificator of Ireland;" Thomas M. Ray, Secretary of the Repeal Association; and Dr Gray, Editor of the Freeman's Journal, Dublin. All these gentlemen were waited upon by the Inspector of Police, and requested to give bail for their appearance.

While the proceedings were pending, the agitation seemed to gather strength and acquire impetus. There was general indignation even among anti-Repealers at the transaction of Clontarf; and Lord Cloncurry made no scruple to term it "a projected massacre." In every corner of the island there was new and multitudinous enrolment of Repealers; and large sums were forwarded to the Association under the title of "Proclamation Money." Every Monday, as usual, O'Connell attended the weekly meeting of the Association, and treated the legal proceedings as a new and powerful agency placed in his hands for working out "the Repeal." He poured ridicule on the Law-officers, the Ministers, the Lord Lieutenant, the Privy Council; and promised that he would put them all to shame, and come triumphantly out of the prosecution (which he did); and that he would thereafter hold the Clontarf meeting, and call together the Council of Three Hundred;—neither of which he ever did.

The specific charge in the indictment (which was the longest indictment ever seen in any court) was "conspiracy" (conspiracy hatched in public meetings!) to bring the laws and administration of the laws into contempt, and to excite hatred and dissension between various classes of her Majesty's subjects; and the overt acts were O'Connell's speeches;—the appointment of Repeal Arbitration Courts, in contempt and derogation of the regular tribunals held under royal commission;—and ...continue reading »

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