The Rising of 1848

Justin McCarthy
Chapter XI | Start of Chapter

In the summer of 1848 the rebellion broke out under the leadership of William Smith O'Brien, and proved a complete failure. No other result could reasonably have been expected. Many of the Young Irelanders were totally opposed to so precipitate an attempt, but Smith O'Brien was determined to go on, and those who had worked with him were unwilling to hold back. No systematic provision had been made of weapons or stores, and even in that part of the country where the rising took place the majority of the people did not know that their leaders had come from Dublin to open a campaign of rebellion. The whole struggle began and ended in an encounter with the police at Ballingarry, County Tipperary, and not even a regiment of soldiers had to be called into action. Smith O'Brien, Thomas Francis Meagher, and others were arrested almost immediately. John Blake Dillon escaped first to France and then to America. He had entirely opposed the premature and unprepared attempt, but as his leader would go on Dillon stood beside him at Ballingarry, where his tall form might have seemed to invite a policeman's bullet.