The Young Ireland Party

Justin McCarthy
Chapter XI | Start of Chapter

After this great triumph for O'Connell the remainder of the "Liberator's" career is but a story of physical decay and of death. The Young Ireland party had broken away from his dominion and set up an agitation of their own. Two men had arisen among them of quite remarkable powers. One of these was John Mitchel, and the other was Thomas Francis Meagher. Mitchel was an uncompromising Nationalist, who went in not merely for constitutional agitation, but for Ireland's independence, her complete severance from the British Empire. Meagher was one of the most brilliant orators Ireland had ever produced. Irishmen have often had great orators among them, but Meagher was counted among the most gifted of his race even in the days of O'Connell and Sheil. His style of oratory was fervid, glowing, passionate, rich with dazzling imagery and poetic allusions drawn from many literatures. Criticism might find fault with its style, but there was no question of its influence upon the listeners.

Another leader of the Young Ireland party was William Smith O'Brien, whose family claimed direct descent from one of the Irish kings, and had for its head a Marquis in the British peerage. Duffy and Dillon for a time kept the Nation to its position as the organ of constitutional agitation, on the ground that there appeared no chance for any other kind of agitation; but they would not submit themselves or their journal to the pacific pledges O'Connell endeavoured to exact.