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Title: Rossa's Recollections, 1838 to 1898
Author: Rossa, Jeremiah O'Donovan
Language: English
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                        ROSSA’S RECOLLECTIONS.

                             1838 TO 1898.

                     CHILDHOOD, BOYHOOD, MANHOOD.

           Customs, Habits and Manners of the Irish People.

                         AND IRISHMAN--ENGLISH
                       RELIGION--IRISH PLUNDER.

                     SOCIAL LIFE AND PRISON LIFE.

           The Fenian Movement. Travels in Ireland, England,
                         Scotland and America.

                          By O’DONOVAN ROSSA

                           O’DONOVAN ROSSA,
                        MARINER’S HARBOR, N. Y.

                            O’DONOVAN ROSSA


    CHAPTER                                                          PAGE

        I. The Cradle and the Weaning                                   5

       II. At my Grandfather’s                                         10

      III. My Schooldays                                               22

       IV. Irish Fireside Story and History                            35

        V. The Emigrant Parting.--Carthy Spauniach                     51

       VI. The Gladstone Blackbird.--Many Features of Irish Life       61

      VII. The Lords of Ireland                                        71

     VIII. A Chapter on Genealogy                                      80

       IX. “Repeal of the Union”                                      101

        X. How England Starved Ireland                                108

       XI. The Bad Times: The “Good People.” Jillen Andy: Her
           Coffinless Grave                                           119

      XII. 1847 and 1848                                              130

     XIII. The Scattering of My Family.--The Phœnix Society           141

      XIV. Love and War and Marriage                                  151

       XV. Doctor Jerrie Crowley, Doctor Anthony O’Ryan, Charles
           Kickham, The Phœnix Society                                177

      XVI. The Start of Fenianism                                     199

     XVII. Arrest of the Phœnix Men                                   206

    XVIII. A Star-Chamber Trial                                       216

      XIX. The McManus Funeral--James Stephens and John O’Mahony
           visit Skibbereen--Fenianism Growing Strong                 234

       XX. The Struggle against the Enemy                             251

      XXI. James Stephens and John O’Mahony                           269

     XXII. A Letter of much Import, Written by James Stephens,
           in the Year 1861                                           282

    XXIII. John O’Mahony, Wm. Sullivan, Florry Roger O’Sullivan,
           Brian Dillon, Jack Dillon, Michael O’Brien, C. U.
           O’Connell, James Mountaine, and others.                    300

     XXIV. Administering Relief to Poor People.--A Fight with
           the Landlords.                                             320

      XXV. John O’Donovan, LL. D., Editor of the Annals of the
           Four Masters.                                              332

     XXVI. My first Visit to America.--My Mother, John O’Mahony,
           Thomas Francis Meagher, Robert E. Kelly, and his Son
           Horace R. Kelly, Michael Corcoran, P. J. Downing, P. J.
           Condon, William O’Shea, and Michael O’Brien the
           Manchester Martyr.                                         378

    XXVII. Great-Grandfather Thomas Crimmins.--His Recollections
           of the Men of ’98, and other Men.                          391


Sixty Years of an Irishman’s Life.



In the Old Abbey field of Ross Carbery, County of Cork, is the old
Abbey Church of St. Fachtna. Some twenty yards south of the church is
the tomb of Father John Power, around which tomb the people gather
on St. John’s eve, “making rounds” and praying for relief from their
bodily infirmities.

On the tombstone it is recorded that Father Power died on the 10th
of August, 1831. I was at his funeral; I heard my mother say she was
“carrying” me that day. It is recorded on the parish registry that I
was baptized on the 10th of September, 1831; that my god-father was
Jerrie Shanahan, and my god-mother Margaret O’Donovan. When I grew
up to boyhood I knew her as “Aunty Peg.” She was the wife of Patrick
O’Donovan “Rua,” and was the sister of my mother’s father, Cornelius
O’Driscoll. Jerrie Shanahan’s mother was Julia O’Donovan Rossa--my
father’s uncle’s daughter. She is buried in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Her
granddaughter Shanahan is the mother of nine or ten children of the Cox
family, the shoe manufacturers of Rochester, N. Y., who by “clounas”
are connected with the family of ex-Congressman John Quinn of New York,
as John Quinn’s mother was the daughter of Denis Kane of Ross, whose
wife was the sister of John Shanahan. I don’t know if John Quinn knows
that the Coxes of Rochester are cousins of his; I don’t know would he
care to know that his mother’s first cousin, Jerrie Shanahan is my
second cousin, and my god-father. There were forty men of my name and
family in my native town when I was a boy; there is not a man or a boy
of my name in it now. One woman of the name lives as heritor of the old
family tomb in the Old Abbey field.

And that is the story of many another Irishman of the old stock.
Families scattered in death as well as in life; a father buried in
Ireland, a mother buried in Carolina, America; a brother buried in
New York, a brother buried in Pennsylvania, a sister buried in Staten
Island. The curse that scattered the Jews is not more destructive than
this English curse that scatters the Irish race, living and dead.

This place of my birth, Ross Carbery, is famed in Irish history as the
seat of learning in the early centuries. Shrines of St. Fachtna, holy
wells and holy places are numerous all around it. Distinction of some
kind--special good fortune or special misfortune--belongs to the life
of every one born there. It is the birthplace of Maurice J. Power, the
right-hand man of ex-President Grover Cleveland, in the city of New
York. It is the birthplace of Richard Croker, the right-hand man of the
Government of the Tammany Hall Society, in the city of New York.

Of the Fates that hover over my life I have no reason to complain. They
have mixed my fortunes; given me a strong constitution, a light heart,
and a light pocket, making my struggle for existence active enough to
keep the blood in a healthy state of circulation, fortifying me with
strength to stand firm under difficulties, and filling my mind with
strong hope in the future if I do all that I deem right in the present.

The Maurice J. Power in New York that I speak of is the same family of
Powers as the Father John Power at whose tomb the people pray to God
for relief from their infirmities. And the belief is that many have
obtained relief through their prayers there. I know that I have gone
through that Abbey field the day after a St. John’s eve, and I have
seen, propped up by stones, a pair of crutches that were left there by
a man who came into the field on those crutches the previous day. The
holy words say, “Faith will move mountains,” the whole world is the
temple of God, and the pilgrim cripple, full of faith, praying to Him
in that Abbey-field, became able to walk away without his crutches, and
leave them standing there as monuments of the miracle.

Father Jerrie Molony, the priest of the parish, discountenanced the
rush of people to Father Power’s tomb every St. John’s eve: he spoke
against it from the altar on Sundays. All to no use; the people came;
came in thousands. Of course, where people congregated in such
numbers, abuses began to grow; the votaries of sin came into his parish
as well as the votaries of prayer, and very probably the good priest
thought it better to stop the gathering altogether than have it made
the occasion of shame and scandal.

I will here leap some years ahead, to record my recollection of one St.
John’s eve that I was in Ross. It was in the year 1858.

James O’Mahony of Bandon wrote to me that he wished to meet me to have
a talk over Irish national affairs. He suggested that St. John’s eve
in Ross would be a good place, as crowds of people would be there, and
we would escape any prying notice. We met there that day. We had our
talk, and then we walked toward the Abbey field. The blind and the halt
and the lame were there, in every path and passage way, appealing for
alms--appealing mostly in the Irish language. We stood behind one man
who was sitting down, his bare ulcerated legs stretched out from him.
His voice was strong, and his language was beautiful. O’Mahony said he
never heard or read anything in the Irish language so beautiful. Taking
his notebook and pencil to note down the words of the appeal, some
traveling companion of the cripple’s told him that a man was taking
notes, and the cripple turned round and told us to go way. He wouldn’t
speak any more until we went away.

This James O’Mahony was a draper in Bandon; he was the brother of
Thaddeus O’Mahony who was a professor of the Irish language in Trinity
College, Dublin. He went to Australia in the year 1863. I hope he is
alive and happy there. With him went another comrade of mine, William
O’Carroll, who kept a bakery in North Main Street, Cork. They were
among the first men in the South of Ireland that joined the Stephens’
movement. It was James O’Mahony that first gave James Stephens the name
of Seabhac; shouk; hawk. The Shouk shoolach--the walking hawk--was a
name given in olden days to a banned wanderer. Stephens, at the start
of this organization, traveled much of Ireland on foot. A night he
stopped at my house in Skibbereen, I saw the soles of his feet red with

This is a long leap I have taken in the chapter of “from the cradle to
the weaning”--a leap from 1831--the year I was born--to 1858, the year
I first met James Stephens. So I will have to leap back now, and talk
on from my childhood.

I must have been very fond of my mother, or my mother must have been
very fond of me, for I must have lived on her breast till I was up to
three years of age. I know she tried often to wean me from her; she
put me to sleep with one of the servant maids, and I remember well the
laugh my father and mother had at me next morning, when I heard her
telling them how often during the night I tried to get at her bosom. I
am more than three years older than my brother Conn, and I suppose it
was the advent of his coming that brought about the arrangement to have
me taken into the country to my grandfather’s place.



It may be doubted that I remember things that happened to me when I
was at my mother’s breast, or when I was three years old; but I have
no doubt on that matter. Prominent in my forehead is a scar. I got
that scar this way: The girl whose chief duty was to mind me had me on
her back one day. I was slipping off; she bounced herself, to raise
me up on her shoulders, and she threw me clear over her head, on the
street. My forehead came on a stone, and from the cut I got remains the
scar. I could to-day point out the spot where I got that toss--between
Billy O’Hea’s house and Beamish’s gate. I got it before I went to my
grandfather’s. I did not come back to town till I was seven years
old--the time I began my schooling.

Those four years I spent in a farmhouse photographed my memory with
all the pictures of Irish life, and fashioned my tongue to carry the
Irish language without any strain. Some say I have a “brogue.” I have.
I am proud I have, and I will never endeavor to have any other kind
of tongue. I gave a lecture in Detroit one night; coming out the main
doorway, there was a crowd, and behind me coming down the steps I heard
one lady say to another: “What a terrible brogue he has!”

Every allowance is made by English-speaking society for the man of
every other nationality on earth speaking broken English, except for
the Irishman. The Dutchman, the German, the Frenchman, the Russian,
the Italian, can speak broken English, and it won’t be said he speaks
it with a brogue, and is, consequently, illiterate; but the Irishman
who speaks it--a language as foreign to his nationality as it is to
the nationality of any of the others--is met immediately with ridicule
and contempt. But--’tis part of the price or penalty of slavery, and
until Irishmen have manhood to remove that slavery, the name of their
language or their land will not have a respected place among the
nations. We may bravely fight all the battles of all the peoples of
the earth, but while Ireland’s battle for Ireland’s freedom remains
unsuccessfully fought--while England continues to rule Ireland--all the
historical bravery of our race in every land, and in every age will not
save us from the slur of the unfriendly chronicler who writes that we
fight well as “mercenaries,” that we fight bravely the battles of every
land on earth, except the battle of our own land.

The Irish language was the language of the house at my grandfather’s
place. It was the language of the table, the language of the milking
barn, the language of the sowing and the reaping, the language of the
mowing, the “mihal” and the harvest-home. The English language may
be spoken when the landlord or English-speaking people came the way,
but the language natural to every one in the house was Irish, and in
the Irish language I commenced to grow. The household of Renascreena
consisted of my grandfather Cornelius O’Driscoll, my grandmother
Anna-ni-Laoghaire, my aunts, Nance, Johanna, Bridget, Anna; my uncles,
Denis, Conn and Michael. Michael was the youngest of the family. He
keeps the old homestead now (1896). Last year, when I was in Ireland,
he drove into Clonakilty to meet me, looking tall and straight. I
asked him his age. He said seventy-five. All the others--aunts and
uncles--are dead, except Aunt Bridget, who lives at No. 11 Callowhill,
Philadelphia, the wife of Patrick Murray. In the family, had been four
more daughters. Mary, married to John O’Brien; Margaret, married to
Jer. Sheehan, of Shanava; Kate, married to Martin O’Donovan-Ciuin, of
Sawroo, whose son is Martin O’Donovan of San Francisco; and Nellie,
the oldest of the children, married, at the age of fifteen, to Denis
O’Donovan Rossa, of Carrig-a-grianaan, whose son I am.

Yes, married at the age of fifteen my mother was, and born thirteen
years after she was married, was I. There isn’t much of a courtship
story, as far as I could hear. This is how I heard it: My father was
riding his horse home from the fair of Ross one evening. The girls at
the roadside well, there in the valley of the Renascreena road, stopped
his horse and challenged him for a “faireen.” He gave them a guinea; my
mother was the recipient of the gold piece. After that, came a proposal
of marriage. My mother’s people visited at the house of my father’s
people at Carrig-a-grianaan, one mile to the north, to know if the
place was a suitable one. All seemed right, and the marriage came off.
But a story is told about there being some angry words between my two
grandfathers after the marriage. My father’s father kept a bleachery
on his farm, and the day my mother’s father visited the place, the
storehouse of that bleachery was well packed with the “pieces” of
bleached linen, which were looked upon as belonging to the stock of the
house. But, when, after the marriage, the people who sent the pieces
in to be bleached took them away, Grandfather O’Driscoll charged that
everything was not represented fairly to him; he talked angrily, and
said he’d drown himself: “Baithfid me fein, baithfid me fein”--“I’ll
drown myself, I’ll drown myself.”

“Oh,” said the other grandfather, “bidheach ciall agat; ba ghaire do’n
fhairge Donal O’Donobhue ’na thusa, as nior bhathaig se e fein”--“Oh,
have sense; Daniel O’Donoghue was nearer to the sea than you, and he
didn’t drown himself.”

Daniel O’Donoghue was after giving his daughter in marriage to my
uncle, my father’s brother Conn, a short time before that.

There were always in my grandfather’s house at Renascreena a couple
of servant girls and a couple of servant boys; twenty cows had to
be milked, and horses and goats, pigs, poultry and sheep had to
be attended to. And what a bright picture remains in my memory in
connection with the milking time in the barn field back of the house!
The cows, munching their bundles of clover and looking as grave as
Solomons, the milking maids softly singing while stealing the milk from
them into their pails; the sweet smell of the new milk and the new
clover; the larks singing in the heavens overhead, as if keeping time
with the joyous voices on earth.

That was the time when everything in the world around me had a golden
hue. I was the pet of the house. And, how I’d bustle around on a Sunday
morning, giving orders to the boys to get the black horse with the
white face ready for mass! and when the horse was ready, how I’d run
through the bohreen into the main road to look at my granddaddie riding
out, the big buckle in the collar of his great coat shining like gold,
with my Nannie in her side-saddle behind him!

A small kitchen-garden orchard separated the house and outhouses from
the other family homesteads on that hillside slope. They were the
homesteads of my grandfather’s two brothers, Patrick and Denis. As
each of the three homesteads was well populated, the population of the
three of them made a little village, and when the neighboring boys came
around at night to see the girls, there was sport enough for a village.
There were fairies in Ireland then, and I grew up there, thinking that
fairy life was something that was inseparable from Irish life. Fairy
stories would be told that were to me and to those around me as much
realities of Irish life as are the stories that I now read in books
called “Realities of Irish Life.” I grew up a boy, believing that there
were “good people” in this world, and I grew up in manhood, or grow
down, believing there are bad people in it, too. When I was in Ireland
lately the population wasn’t half what it was when I was a boy. I asked
if the fairies had been exterminated, too, for there seemed to be none
of the life around that abounded in my time. Yes, English tyranny had
killed out the “good people,” as well as the living people.

The O’Driscolls did not own the townland of Renascreena themselves,
though the three families of them occupied nearly the whole of it.
The O’Driscolls did own it at one time, and other lands around it,
but the English came over to Ireland in strong numbers; they coveted
the lands of the Irish; they overran the country with fire and sword;
they beat the Irish; they killed many of them; they banished many of
them; and they allowed more of them to remain in the land, on the
condition that they would pay rent to the English, and acknowledge them
as their landlords. That is how the old Irish, on their own lands,
all over Ireland to-day are called tenants, and how the English in
Ireland are called landlords. The landlord of Renascreena in my day was
Thomas Hungerford, of Cahirmore. The landlord to-day is his son Harry
Hungerford, a quiet kind of a man, I understand. The father was a quiet
kind of a man, too. He was, in a small way, a tenant to my father. My
father had the marsh field on the seashore. Tom Hungerford rented from
him a corner of it, out of which to make a quay on which the boatmen
would land sand for his tenants. My father would give me a receipt for
a pound every gale-day to go up with it to Cahirmore. Giving me the
pound one day the big man said:

“If I was so strict with the tenants as to send for the rent to them
the day it fell due, what a cry would be raised against me.” I told
him the rent in this case wasn’t going to beggar him, and as he was
prospering on the estate, it wasn’t much matter to him paying it. He
smiled. He is gone; God be good to him; he was not, that I know of, one
of those evicting landlords that took pleasure in the extermination of
the people.

The Irish people learn through oral tradition what many people learn
from book history. Before I ever read a book, before I ever went to
school, I got into my mind facts of history which appeared incredible
to me. I got into my mind from the fireside stories of my youth that
the English soldiers in Clonakilty, convenient to where I was born,
used to kill the women, and take the young children, born and unborn,
on the points of their bayonets, and dash them against the walls, and
that the soldiers at Bandon Bridge used to tie men in couples with
their hands behind their backs, and fling them into the river.

Those very two atrocious acts are, I find, in Daniel O’Connell’s
“Memoirs of Ireland,” recorded this way:

“1641. At Bandon Bridge they tied eighty-eight Irishmen of the said
town back to back, and threw them off the bridge into the river, where
they were all drowned.--Coll. p. 5.”

“County Cork, 1642. At Cloghnakilty about 238 men, women and children
were murdered, of which number seventeen children were taken by the
legs by soldiers, who knocked out their brains against the walls. This
was done by Phorbis’s men and the garrison of Bandon Bridge.”

O’Connell’s Memoirs give accounts of similar atrocities in every
county of Ireland, and his accounts are taken from Englishmen writers
of Irish history. In the fireside history of my childhood home, I
learned that the English soldiers in Clonakilty took some of the
infants on the points of their bayonets and dashed them against the

At a flax-mihal, or some gathering of the kind at my grandfather’s, one
night that some of the neighboring girls were in, they and my aunts
were showing presents to each other--earrings, brooches, rings and
little things that way. One of them showed a brooch which looked like
gold, but which probably was brass, and wanted to make much of it.
“Nach e an volumus e!” said one of my aunts. “What a molamus it is.”
That was making little of it. Perhaps the boy who made a present of it
was “pulling a string” with the two girls. The word “volumus” is Latin,
but the Irish language softens it into “molamus,” and uses it as a name
for anything that is made much of, but is really worth very little. You
will see in Lingard’s history of Ireland how the two words came into
the Irish language. After the time of the Reformation, when England
formulated the policy and practice of expelling from Ireland all the
Irish who would not turn Sassenach, and all particularly who had been
plundered of their lands and possessions, she passed laws decreeing
that it was allowable for landlords and magistrates to give “permits”
to people to leave the country, and never come back. But, that the
person leaving, should get a pass or permit to travel to the nearest
seaport town to take shipping. And if a ship was not leaving port the
day of his arrival at the port, he, to give assurance of his desire to
leave the country, should wade into the sea up to his knees every day
till a ship was ready. There were printed forms of such permits; and
the first word in those forms, printed in very large letters, was the
Latin word “Volumus,” which meant: We wish, or we desire, or it is our
pleasure, that the bearer be allowed to leave Ireland forever. A royal
permit to exile yourself, to banish yourself from your native land
forever! Nach e an volumus e! What a molamus it is!

A political lesson was graven on my mind by the Irish magpies that had
their nests in the big skehory tree on the ditch opposite the kitchen
door. I had permission to go through the tree to pick the skehories,
but I was strictly ordered not to go near the magpies’ nest, or to
touch a twig or thorn belonging to it.

If the magpies’ nest was robbed; if their young ones were taken away
from them, they would kill every chicken and gosling that was to be
found around the farmyard. That is the way my grandfather’s magpies
would have their vengeance for having their homes and their families
destroyed; and it made every one in my grandfather’s house “keep the
peace” toward them. I have often thought of my grandfather’s magpies
in connection with the destruction of the houses and families of the
Irish people by the English landlords of Ireland. Those magpies seemed
to have more manly Irish spirit than the Irish people themselves. But
there is no use of talking this way of his childhood’s recollections.
I’ll stop. If childhood has pleasure in plenty, I had it in this house
of my grandfather, from the age of three to the age of seven.

I am publishing a newspaper called The _United Irishman_. In it, I
printed the two preceding chapters.

Ex-Congressman John Quinn, whom I have spoken of in them, sends me the
following letter:

    DEAR ROSSA--I read with delight in the last issue of your truly
    patriotic journal what to me is the most interesting of all
    stories; namely, “Rossa’s Recollections.”

    The traveling along with you, as it were, carries me back to
    the early morning of my life in that dear land beyond the sea,
    and I feel that I hear over again the tales as told by a fond
    mother to her listening, her wondering children, of saintly
    Ross Carbery, and the wild, the grand country from there to
    Bantry Bay.

    Yes, I have heard her tell of the miracles which were performed
    at the tomb of Father John Power, and, I feel that if ever the
    afflicted were healed of their infirmities on any part of this
    earth, they were, at the grave of that saintly priest.

    I was not born in that county, for “under the blue sky of
    Tipperary” my eyes first saw the light of day, but, as you say,
    my mother was born in Ross Carbery; and where is the son who
    does not love the spot where his mother was born? I do, with a
    fondness akin to veneration.

    Oh, what memories you will call up in those recollections of
    yours! How the hearts of the sons and daughters of Ireland will
    throb as they feel themselves carried back in spirit to the
    abbeys, the raths and, alas! the ruins, around which in infancy
    their young feet wandered. For to no people on earth are the
    loved scenes of childhood half so dear as they are to the sons
    and daughters of our Green Isle.

    It is very interesting to me to have brought to my mind once
    more the dear old names from whence I’ve sprung. And, you ask,
    “Would John Quinn care to know that the Kanes, the Shanahans,
    the Coxes, of Rochester; the O’Regans, of South Brooklyn, and
    the children of the exiles, are cousins of his and mine?” Why,
    Rossa; I certainly would be more than delighted to know of
    them, and to meet any of them; the more so, as leaving Ireland
    with my parents immediately after the “Rebellion” of ’48, I
    never had much of an opportunity of meeting any of them, or
    knowing of their whereabouts. No matter where they are, or what
    their lot might be, they would be to me as dear as kindred
    could be.

    When first I learned that the same blood, through the Shanahan
    line, flowed through your veins and mine, I seemed to draw you
    the more closely to me.

    I had long admired you for your devotion to motherland. I have
    in other days wept as I read of your sufferings in British
    dungeons; when, with hands tied behind your back, you were
    compelled, for days at a time, to lap up the miserable food
    given you. I did not know that we were united by ties of
    kinship then, but I felt bound to you by the strongest ties of
    country and of home, for I recognized in you a son of the Gael
    who, no matter what your sufferings might be, had vowed to
    keep the old flag flying; to keep the torch blazing brightly to
    the world, proclaiming that all the power of perfidious England
    could not quench the fires of faith and Fatherland in Ireland.

    Yes, you proclaimed, not only from the hilltops and the valleys
    of our native land, but also from the cells of an English jail,
    that Ireland was not dead, but would yet live to place her heel
    on the neck of England.

    For this, every Irishman should admire, should honor you. Your
    paper and your “Recollections” should be in the hands of every
    true Irishman. The reading of such stories will keep alive the
    faith of our fathers, faith in the sacred cause; yes, and make
    hearts feel young again as they read of those grand old hills
    and valleys of holy Ireland.

    And those noble, those prominent figures, the sons and
    daughters of other days, who played their various parts in the
    great drama of Irish life and patriotism--we shall read of
    them, and though of many, very many, we must feel that in this
    world we shall never meet again, yet we know that in leaving,
    they have but gone a short time before us to enjoy in heaven
    that reward, which hearts so good and pure as theirs were,
    shall surely receive.

    Wishing you success in your “Recollections,” your _United
    Irishman_, and all your undertakings. I am,

        Sincerely yours,

                                                        JOHN QUINN.



At the age of seven, I was brought home to my father and mother
in Ross, to be sent to school, and prepared for Confirmation and
Communion. I had received those sacraments of the Church before I was
nine years of age. Confirmation day, the boys were lined along the
chapel aisle in couples, the boy who was my comrade going up to the
altar was Patrick Regan, and it was a singular coincidence that nine
years before that, he and I were baptized the same day in the same
chapel. And we went through school in the same class.

That time, when I was only a very little boy, I must have been a very
big sinner, for I remember the day of my first confession, when I came
out the chapel door, relieved of the weight of my sins, and faced the
iron gate that stood between me and the main road, I felt as though I
could leap over that gate.

If you at any time notice that I occasionally wander away from the main
road of my narrative in these “Recollections,” and run into byroads or
bohreens, or take a leap of fifty years in advance, from the days of my
boyhood to the present days, I have high and holy authority for doing
that. Father Brown, of Staten Island reading the Epistle of the day at
mass yesterday (Feb. 16, 1896) read these words: “When I was a child,
I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, thought as a child; but
when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

I am speaking as a child, so far, and very likely my words will give
less offense than the words I will have to say, when I grow up, and
speak as a man.

In preparing for confirmation, the school broke up about noon on
Saturdays, and the boys were led by the master to the chapel, which was
near by. There, were Father Jerrie Molony, and his nephews, Michael and
Jerrie Molony, who were home from college on vacation, and Tead Red,
to help our master in instructing us in our catechism. Tead Red was
the instructor in the Irish language. He had a class of his own. I saw
Father Molony take hold of a boy in my class one day, and take him over
to the class of Tead Red, telling him it was in the Irish language he
should learn his catechism. How often here in America have I thought
of Father Molony, when I met priests from the most Irish-speaking part
of Ireland, who could not speak the Irish language. No wonder that our
nationality should become diluted and corrupted, no wonder it should
become poisoned with--Trust in the English to free Ireland for us.

But, my schoolmaster! How can I speak of him! He is dead. God be good
to him. I often wonder how he got his schooling. I often wonder how the
people of Ross of my early days got their schooling, for they spoke the
English language more correctly than it is spoken by many of the people
of this day who are called educated; and, with that, they naturally
spoke the Irish language. The priests used to preach in the Irish

I say I wonder how the people of Ross in the generation of my father’s
boyhood got their education, for they were born in a time when
education was banned in Ireland. The schools that are called National
schools were not established till I was born. The hedge-schools and
hedge-schoolmasters were around in the generations that preceded my
time. In the summer time, the children assembled in the shade of the
hedges and trees, and the masters taught them their lessons. In the
winter time the hedge-school was in the shelter of some farmhouse.
As it was in the schooling of the Irish people, so it was in their
religion. That was under a ban too; the priests were boycotted as well
as the people. Yes, for two hundred years after the English religion
was introduced into Ireland, any priest caught saying mass was subject
to a fine; caught a second time, it was fine and imprisonment, and
caught a third time it was banishment or death. Any Irishman caught
attending mass was heavily fined; caught a second time, was doubly
fined, and when the fines increased and were not paid, the lands of the
people were confiscated, and sold out by the English. That is how the
tradition is implanted in the minds of many exiled Irish men and women
to-day--that their people lost their lands in Ireland on account of
sticking to their religion.

There were two of the old-time schoolmasters in Ross when I was a
child. Daniel Herlihy was one, and Daniel Hegarty the other. I remember
being at the house of each; but it was only for a few days, or a few
weeks. They had their schools in their own houses, and they turned out
good scholars, too; scholars that knew Latin and Greek.

But ’tis to John Cushan that I give the credit for my schooling. When
I went to his National school, I wasn’t much beyond my A-B-C, if I was
out of it at all; because I recollect one day that I was in his class,
and the master teaching us. He had a rod called a pointer, and he was
telling a little boy from Maoil what to call the letters. The little
boy could not speak any English; he knew nothing but Irish, and the
master, putting the tip of the pointer to the letter A on the board,
would say to him, “Glao’g A air sin,” then he’d move the pointer to B,
and say, “Glao’g B air sin,” and so on to the end of the lesson.

Another recollection satisfies me I had not much learning when I
went to John Cushan’s school. I was in my class one day, that one of
the monitors had charge of it. All the small classes were up in the
hallways around the school, reading their lessons off the boards that
hung on the walls. It was a day that the Inspector visited the school,
and with the Inspector was the priest, Father Ambrose. Each boy in my
class was to read one sentence of the lesson, until the lesson was
ended; then the next boy would commence again, at the top of the card.
It came to my turn to commence, and after commencing I did not stop at
the end of the first sentence. I read on--

“John threw a stone down the street. He did not mean to do any harm.
But just as the stone slipped out of his hand, an old man came in the
way, and it struck his head and made him bleed.”

I read on to the end of that lesson, which is about the last one in
the A-B-C book, or “First Book of Lessons of the National Schools.” I
forgot myself; I was thinking of birds’ nests, or marbles, or something
else; when I got out of my reverie, there were the boys tittering,
and the master and the priest and the Inspector looking at me with a
smile-turn on their faces.

My memory would do those times what I cannot get it to do now. It would
get into it by heart, and retain it for some time--a pretty long time
indeed--every lesson I got to learn. Those lessons hold possession of
it to-day, to the exclusion, perhaps, of memories that are more needed.
Yet, I find them no load to carry, and I use them occasionally, too, to
some effect. A year ago in giving some lectures to my people in Ireland
and England, I made audiences laugh heartily, by telling them how much
they needed learning some of the lessons I learned at school. They’d
understand the application of my words, when I’d repeat for them these
lines that were in my second book at John Cushan’s school:

    “Whatever brawls disturb the street,
      There should be peace at home,
    Where sisters dwell and brothers meet
      Quarrels should never come.

    “Birds in their little nests agree,
      And ’tis a shameful sight,
    When children of one family
      Fall out and chide and fight.”

The men who were in those audiences, to whom I spoke, were divided.
Thirty years ago, I knew them to be united. Thirty years ago, they had
no trust in the English parliament to free Ireland for them. Last year,
all their trust for Ireland’s Freedom seemed to be in that parliament.
This one little story will enable my readers to clearly understand me:

Last May, I was in London. One day, passing by the office of the Land
League rooms there, I called in to see the Secretary, James Xavier
O’Brien. I had known O’Brien long ago. I and my wife had slept a night
at his house in Cork city in the year 1864. I had traveled with him
among his friends in Waterford in the year 1864. He and I were in
the prison of Millbank, London, in the year 1867. We tried to write
letters to each other; the letters were caught; we were punished; I was
transferred to the Chatham Prison.

When in London in 1895, I thought I would like to look at O’Brien and
have a little talk with him about those old times. I went into his
office. We recognized each other. After the first salutation, the first
words he said, and he said them soon enough, were:

“Rossa, I can’t do anything for you in regard to your lectures.”

“Stop, now,” said I, “stop. Never mind the lectures. I called in to
see you, just to look at you; to have one word with you, for old times’
sake; if I had passed your door, or that you had heard I passed your
door without calling in, wouldn’t people think that we were mad with
each other for something; wouldn’t we be giving scandal?”

He smiled, and we talked on. But again, he spoke of not being able
to do anything for my lectures, and again I stopped him; and a third
time he brought the matter up, and a third time I had to stop him, and
tell him it was not to talk of lectures I came in, but to have a look
at himself. In traveling through England and Scotland and Wales after
that day, I learned that part of the duties of his office in London
was, to write to the McCarthy party clubs telling them the lectures of
O’Donovan Rossa were not officially recognized by the confederation;
but that individual members were not prohibited from attending them, as
individuals, if they desired to attend.

I will now take myself back to school again.

I spoke of getting all my lessons by heart in short time. That’s true.
They are in my head still. One of them tells me not to believe in
dreams; that--

“Whang, the miller, was naturally avaricious. Nobody loved money more
than he, or more respected those who had it. When any one would talk of
a rich man in company, Whang would say, ‘I know him very well; he and I
are intimate.’”--And so on.

But Whang did not know poor people at all; he hadn’t the least
acquaintance with them. He believed in dreams, though; he dreamed,
three nights running, that there was a crock of gold under the wall of
his mill; digging for it, he loosened the foundation stones; the walls
of his mill fell down, and that was the last of my Whang, the miller.

Many lessons were in the schoolbooks of my day that are not in the
schoolbooks to-day. “The Exile of Erin” was in the Third book in my
day; ’tisn’t in any of the books to-day. “The Downfall of Poland,” in
which “Freedom shrieked as Kosciusko fell,” was in one of the books in
my day. ’Tisn’t in any of the books to-day. England is eliminating from
those Irish national schoolbooks every piece of reading that would tend
to nurse the Irish youth into a love of country, or a love of freedom,
and she is putting into them pieces that make the Irish children pray
to God to make them happy _English_ children.

But apart from politics, there were some good lessons in those books
that have remained living in my mind all through my life. This is a
good one--

    I would not enter on my list of friends,
    Though graced with polished manners and fine sense,
    Yet, wanting sensibility--the man
    Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.
    An inadvertent step may crush the snail
    That crawls at evening in the public path,
    But he that hath humanity, forewarned
    Will step aside, and let the reptile live.
    The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight,
    And charged with venom, that intrudes--
    A visitor, unwelcome unto scenes
    Sacred to nature and repose:--the bower,
    The chamber, or the hall--may die;
    A necessary act incurs no blame.
    Not so, when held within their proper bounds,
    And guiltless of offense, they range the air,
    Or take their pastimes in the spacious field,
    There they are privileged.
    And he that hurts or harms them there
    Is guilty of a wrong; disturbs the economy
    Of nature’s realm; who, when she formed them,
    Designed them an abode. The sum is this:
    If man’s convenience, health or safety interferes,
    His rights and claims are paramount, and must extinguish theirs;
    Else, they are all, the meanest things that are,
    As free to live, and to enjoy that life,
    As God was free to form them at first--
    Who, in His sovereign wisdom made them all,
    Ye, therefore, who love mercy,
    Teach your sons to love it too.
    The springtime of our years is so dishonored and defiled, in most,
    By budding ills that ask a prudent hand to check them.
    But, alas! none sooner shoots, if unrestrained,
    Into luxuriant growth, than cruelty,
    Most devilish of them all. Mercy to him
    Who shows it is the rule, and righteous limitation of its act
    By which heaven moves, in pardoning guilty man;
    And he who shows none, being ripe in years,
    And conscious of the outrage he commits,
    Shall seek it, and not find it, in return.

That poem is in my mind, whenever I step aside, lest I tread upon a
worm or a fly in my path. And here, from my school-book are--


    The hollow winds begin to blow,
    The clouds look black, the glass is low,
    The soot falls down, the spaniels sleep,
    And spiders from their cobwebs creep.
    Hark! how the chairs and tables crack,
    Old Betty’s joints are on the rack;
    Loud quack the ducks, the peacocks cry,
    The distant hills are looking nigh,
    How restless are the snorting swine.
    The busy fly disturbs the kine,
    “Puss,” on the hearth with velvet paws,
    Sits wiping o’er her whiskered jaws.
    Through the clear streams the fishes rise
    And nimbly catch the incautious flies.
    The frog has changed his yellow vest,
    And in a russet coat is drest,
    My dog, so altered in his taste,
    Quits mutton bones, on grass to feast,
    And see yon rooks--how odd their flight,
    They imitate the gliding kite.
    And headlong, downwards, seem to fall,
    As if they felt the piercing ball.
    ’Twill surely rain; I see, with sorrow
    Our jaunt must be put off to-morrow.

Then, there is the little busy bee:--

    How doth the little busy bee
      Improve each shining hour
    And gather honey all the day
      From every opening flower.

    How skilfully she builds her nest,
      How neat she spreads the wax
    And labors hard to store it well
      With the sweet food she makes.

    In works of labor, or of skill,
      I must be busy too;
    For idle hands, some mischief still
      Will ever find to do.

Those poems may not be exactly word for word as they are printed in the
books; but I am not going to look for the books, to see if they are
correct. That would be a desecration of myself and my story, as I have
told my readers I am taking my writings from the stores of my memory.

Nor, must I run away from school either--to tell stories outside of
school. I ran ahead in my classes when I was at school. The master
would have a patch of one of our fields every year, to sow potatoes
in. My father, on some business of his, took me with him to the
master’s house one night; the master had two little girls, daughters;
he was telling my father that I was getting on well at school, and that
if I continued to be good ’till I grew up to be a big boy, he’d give me
his Mary Anne for a little wife.

My grandfather and grandmother would come to mass every Sunday. They’d
come to our place first, and let the horse be put in the stable till
mass was over. I was that time such a prodigy of learning, that my
innocent Nannie feared the learning would rise in my head.

I was put sitting up on the counter one day to read a lesson for
her, and after I had finished reading, I heard her say to my mother,
“Nellie, a laodh! coimead o scoil tamal e; eireog a leighean ’n a
cheann”--“Nellie, dear! keep him from school a while; the learning will
rise in his head.” Oh, yes; I was a prodigy of learning that time. My
learning ran far and away ahead of my understanding. I was in my class
one day, reading from the little book of “Scripture lessons,” and I
read aloud that the mother of Jacob and Esau “bore twines”--“What’s
that? What’s that?” said the master, smiling, and I again read that
that lady of the olden time “bore twines.” I did not know enough to
pronounce the word “twins,” and probably did not know at the time
what “twins” meant. If the schoolmaster was teaching me my natural
language--the Irish, and if I had read from the book--“do bidh cooplee
aici,” I would readily understand that she had a couple of children
together at the one lying-in.

My master often slapped me on the hand with his wooden slapper, but
he never flogged me; though I must have suffered all the pains and
penalties of flogging from him one time, for, before he struck me at
all, I screeched as if he had me half-killed.

I was put into the vestry-room one evening, with five or six other
boys, to be flogged, after the rest of the scholars had left school.

The master came in and locked the door, and gave the orders to strip.
I unbuttoned my trousers from my jacket, and let them fall down. I
commenced screeching, and I’d emphasize with a louder screech every
lash of the cat-o’-nine tails that every little boy would get. I was
left for the last. He caught me by the shoulder. “Now,” said he, “will
you be late from school any more?” “Oh, sir, oh, sir, I’ll never be
late any more.” “You’ll keep your promise--sure?” “Oh, yes, yes, sir;
I’ll never be late anymore.” Then, with cat-o’-nine tails lifted in his
hand, he let me go without striking me.

This school I was at was called the Old-Chapel school. It was built on
the top of the hill field, and on the top of the Rock. Very likely it
was built in the days of the persecution of the church, when it was a
crime for the priest to say mass, and a crime for the people to attend
mass. From the location of it, any one coming toward it from the north,
east, south or west, could be seen. The watchman in the belfry house
on the tiptop of the rock could see all around him. “The Rock” is a
seashore hamlet, inhabited chiefly by fishermen. The hill field was
one of my father’s fields, and often I went over the wall on a Sunday
morning to look at Corly Keohane ringing the bell for mass. I had to
be up early those mornings to keep the Rock hens out of the cornfield;
often and often the bedclothes were pulled off me at daybreak.



I must have been at John Cushan’s school about six years. Paying a
visit to the school after his death, I looked at the roll-calls, and
I could not find my name on them after December, 1844. So I had been
at school from the age of six to the age of thirteen. Bad times came
on then. The year 1845 was the first year of the great blight of the
potato crops in Ireland. The landlords of Ireland made a raid upon the
grain crops and seized them and sold them for their rents, leaving
the producers of those crops to starve or perish or fly the country.
Thousands of families were broken up; thousands of homes were razed; I
am one of the victims of those bad times. People now allude to those
years as the years of the “famine” in Ireland. That kind of talk is
nothing but trash. There was no “famine” in Ireland; there is no famine
in any country that will produce in any one year as much food as will
feed the people who live in that country during that year. In the year
1845 there were 9,000,000 people in Ireland; allowing that the potato
crop failed, other crops grew well, and the grain and cattle grown in
the country were sufficient to sustain three times 9,000,000 people.
England and the agents of England in Ireland seized those supplies of
food, and sent them out of the country, and then raised the cry that
there was “famine” in the land. There was no famine in the land, but
there was plunder of the Irish people by the English Government of
Ireland; and Coroners’ juries, called upon to give judgment in cases
of people found dead, had brought in verdicts of “murder” against that
English Government. I will come to that time in another chapter of my

Many of the neighbors used to sit skurreechting at night at my father’s
fireside, and it was here I learned many matters of Irish history
before I was able to read history. It was here I came to know Tead
Andy, of whom I wrote thirty years ago, when I was in an English prison:

    In songs and ballads he took great delight,
      And prophecies of Ireland yet being freed,
    And singing them by our fireside at night,
      I learned songs from Tead, before I learned to read.

That fireside was a big open hearth; up the chimney somewhere was
fastened a rod of iron about an inch thick; at the end of it below
was a crook; the whole thing was called a pot-crook, and on it was a
movable pot hanger to hang a pot. Then with a turf fire and a big skulb
of ver in that fire that lighted the plates on the dresser below with
the photograph of all who were sitting in front of it; I, standing or
sitting in the embrace of one of the men, would listen to stories of
all the fairies that were “showing” themselves from Carrig-Cliona to
Inish-Owen, and of all the battles that were fought in Christendom and
out of Christendom.

Mind now, I am, in these “recollections,” taking in the time that
transpired between the years 1839 and 1845--the time I was between the
age of seven and thirteen.

In the skurreechting company at the fireside was an old man who had
a lot of stories about wars and battles. One story he’d tell of one
battle he was in that I could not thoroughly understand at the time,
nor did I thoroughly understand it either, until several years after
I heard it. It was a story of some battle he was fighting, and he’d
rather have the other side win the battle than his side.

One Summer’s day I had my wheel-and-runners outside the door winding
quills; an old man with a bundle on a stick on his shoulder came up
the street and asked me who lived there in my house. I told him. And
who lives in that house opposite? Jillen Andy. And in the next house?
Joannie Roe. And the next? Paddy Lovejoy. That Paddy Lovejoy was the
father of the rich man Stephen Lovejoy, of the Seventh Ward, New York,
who died last year; and Joannie Roe was the sister of the old man Dan
Roe, who was making the inquiries of me. He was an English pensioner
soldier coming home to Ireland. He had joined the North Cork Militia
when a young man, just as many an Irishman joins the Irish militia
to day, for the purpose of learning the use of arms for Ireland’s
sake; the war of ’98 broke out; the North Cork Militia were sent into
Wexford; the battle that Dan Roe was speaking about at my father’s
fireside, wherein he’d rather the other side would win than his side,
was the battle of Vinegar Hill.

“Oh!” he’d say, “if they had only done so and so they’d have gained the

Cork has got a bad name in Wexford on account of this North Cork
Militia going into Wexford in ’98. But the same thing could occur
to-day, not only as regards Cork and Wexford, but as regards all the
other counties of Ireland.

Those militia regiments are officered by the English, who live in
Ireland; by the landlords of Ireland, and by the office-holders of
the English Government in Ireland. In ’98 the North Cork Militia were
officered by the lords and the landlords of Cork; they were English;
the rank and file of their command were the plundered Irish; the
regiments were ordered into active service, and, under the military
discipline of England the victims of England’s plunder were made to
fight against their brother victims in Wicklow and Wexford, who were
battling against the common plunderers. ’Tis a condition of things
that the Irish nationalist of to-day has to take into consideration in
connection with a fight for the independence of Ireland. Every day you
will hear some good Irishman say “We will have the Irish police and
the Irish soldiers with us when we take the field.” All right; but you
must all be reasonable, too; you must first let the Irish policeman and
Irishman red-coat soldier see that you are in earnest--that you mean
fight--that you have fought a battle or taken a stand which will show
him there is no turning back from it, and that if he turns over with
you there is some chance of success.

The company of the fireside would be occasionally recruited by some
poor old traveling man or woman who had a lodging in the house that
night, and seemed to be a pensioner of the family, who had known them
in better days.

Looking up at the rafters and at the rusty iron crooks fastened into
them, I heard one of those lady lodgers say one night, “Mo chreach! do
chomairc-sa an la, na bheidheach meirg air na croocaidhe sin, air easba
lon,” which in English would mean “my bitter woe! I saw the day that
the rust would not be on those hooks, from want of use.”

The bacon-hooks had no bacon hanging on them, and were rusty. Other
articles of better times were rusty, too. On the mantelpiece or clevvy
over the arch of the hearth, was a big steel fork about a yard long;
it was called a flesh-fork. That used to get rusty, too, and only on
Christmas Days, Easter Day, New Year’s Day, Shrove Tuesday and some
other big feast-days would the girls take it down to brighten it up for
service in the big pot of meat they were preparing for the feast.

The decay in trade and manufacture that had set in on Ireland after the
Irish Parliament had been lost, had already been felt by my people.
They had a Linen bleachery convenient to the town, and in a shop in the
house in which I was born, we had four looms in which four men were
at work. Mick Crowley and Peter Crowley had “served their time” with
my father’s people as apprentices to the trade; they were now “out of
their time” and working as journeymen. Peter was a great singer, and
every farthing or ha’penny I’d get hold of, I’d buy a ballad for it
from blind Crowley, the ballad-singer, to hear Peter sing it for me.
Peter was a Repealer, too, and I should judge his hopes for a Repeal of
the Union were high, by the “fire” he would show singing:

    “The shuttles will fly in the groves of Blackpool,
    And each jolly weaver will sing in his loom,
    The blackbird in concert will whistle a tune
    To welcome Repeal to old Erin.”

And I used to learn some of those songs of Peter’s. I have them by
heart to-day. “The Wonderful White Horse” was a great one. It evidently
meant Ireland, for the first verse of it is:

    “My horse he is white, altho’ at first he was grey,
    He took great delight in traveling by night and by day;
    His travels were great if I could but the half of them tell,
    He was rode by St. Ruth the day that at Aughrim he fell.”

But the song about “The Kerry Eagle” is the one I used to take delight
in. Here are a few verses of it:

    “You true sons of Grania come listen awhile to my song,
    And when that you hear it I’m sure you won’t say that I’m wrong;
    It is of a bold eagle, his age it was over three-score,
    He was the pride of the tribe, and the flower of Erin’s green shore.

    “From the green hills of Kerry so merry, my eagle took wing,
    With talents most rare, in Clare he began for to sing;
    The people admired and delighted in his charming air,
    And soon they elected him in as a member for Clare.

    “Then straight off to London my eagle took flight o’er the main,
    His voice reached America, all over Europe and Spain;
    The black-feathered tribe, they thought for to bribe his sweet notes,
    But he would not sing to the tune of their infernal oaths.


    “Then back to Graniawail he set sail like a cloud through a smoke,
    And told her that one of her long galling fetters was broke;
    For the Emancipation the nation stood up to a man,
    And my eagle in triumph united the whole Irish land.

    “There was at that time a pert little bird called d’Esterre,
    Who challenged my eagle to fight on the plains of Kildare;
    But my eagle that morning, for Ireland he showed a true pluck,
    For a full ounce of lead in the belly of d’Esterre he had stuck.


    “And now to conclude: may his soul rest in heaven, I pray,
    His motto was peace, his country he ne’er did betray;
    The whole world I’m sure, can never produce such a man,
    Let us all rest in peace, and forever remember brave Dan.”

Oh, yes; I have love-songs, too, with big rocky words of English in
them, such as the song of the Colleen Fhune, of which this is a verse:

    “One morning early for recreation,
      As I perigrinated by a river-side,
    Whose verdant verges were decorated
      With bloom, by nature diversified;
    A charming creature I espied convenient,
      She sadly playing a melodious tune;
    She far transcended the goddess Venus,
      And her appellation was the Colleen Fhune.”

The song that all the boys and girls in the house had, was the song of
“The Battle of Ross.” It was composed by John Collins, of Myross, a man
of some fame as a Gaelic scholar and poet, who wrote the Gaelic poem on
Timoleague Abbey. “The Battle of Ross” was fought about the year 1800.
I suppose it was no regular battle, but the little boys at our side of
the house used to celebrate the victory of it every July 12, and march
through the lanes and streets, with twigs and rods as guns, upon their

Most of the grown people of my day remembered the battle. At the time
of its occurrence the towns of Cork were famed for their societies of
Orangemen,--men who were born in Ireland, but who were sworn to uphold
the foreign rule of England in their native land. They were schooled,
and the like of them are to-day schooled, into believing that only for
the protecting power of England, the Catholics of Ireland would kill
the Protestants of Ireland. These Orangemen societies grew strong in
many places, and became so aggressive and so fostered and patronized
by the English governors, that they acted as if their mission was
the English mission of rooting the old Irish race out of Ireland
altogether. The spirit that harmonized with their education was the
spirit expressed by those words painted on the gates of the town of

    “Turk, Jew or Atheist may enter here, but not a papist.”

Of that it is said that some one wrote under it these words:

    “Whoever wrote that wrote it well,
    For the same is written on the gates of hell.”

But about this battle of Ross that is celebrated in song by John
Collins, I may as well let the poet tell the story of it in those words
of his that are sung to the air of “The Boyne Water.”

    July the twelfth in ancient Ross
      There was a furious battle.
    Where many an Amazonian lass
      Made Irish bullets rattle.
    Sir Parker pitched his Flavian band
      Beyond the Rowry water,
    Reviewed his forces on the strand
      And marshaled them for slaughter.
    They ate and drank from scrip and can
      And drew their polished bayonets;
    They swore destruction to each man
      Dissenting from their tenets.
    Replete with wrath and vengeance, too,
      They drank “Annihilation
    To that insidious, hated crew--
      The Papists of the nation!”
    Their chief advanced along the shore
      And every rank incited;
    “Brave boys,” said he, “mind what you swore”--
      And what they swore recited.
    “This night let’s stand as William stood:
      Set yonder town on fire;
    Wade through a flood of Papist blood
      Or in the flames expire.”
    The listening multitude approved,
      With shouts of approbation,
    Of what their generous leader moved
      In his sweet peroration.
    Each swore that he would never flee,
      Or quit the field of action,
    Unless assailed by more than three
      Of any other faction.
    They crossed the purling Rowry Glen,
      Intent on spoil and plunder;
    Their firelocks raised a dreadful din,
      Like peals of distant thunder.
    The Garde-de-Corps first led across;
      The rest in martial order,
    And in full gallop entered Ross
      In fourteen minutes after.
    The warlike women of the town,
      Apprized of the invasion,
    Like Amazons of high renown,
      Soon formed into a legion.
    With courage scarcely ever known,
      Led on by brave Maria,
    Each stood, like David with a stone,
      To face the great Goliah.
    The Flavian corps commenced the fray,
      And fired a sudden volley;
    The women, strangers to dismay,
      Made a most vigorous sally.
    The fight grew hot along the van,
      Both stones and bullets rattle.
    And many a brave young Orangeman
      Lay on the field of battle.
    Now here, now there, Maria flies,
      Nothing can stop her courses.
    All instruments of death she plies
      Against the Orange forces.
    Such is her speed upon the plain,
      No mortal can outpace her,
    And such her valor--’tis in vain
      For any man to face her,
    Great Major Hewitt, for tactics famed,
      Renewed the fierce alarms,
    Celestial rays of lightning gleamed
      From his refulgent arms.
    His father was of earthly race,
      His mother--once the fairest
    Of rural nymphs--the stolen embrace
      Of Jove upon a “Papist.”
    He rushed into the virgin throng
      And put them in commotion,
    But brave Maria quickly ran
      And stopped his rapid motion.
    With his own pistol, on his head,
      She gave him such a wherrit
    As laid him with the vulgar dead,
      Devoid of sense and spirit.
    Barclay, the second in command,
      Renowned for killing number
    Was by Margretta’s daring band,
      Knocked into deadly slumbers;
    With a sharp saw upon his crown
      She cut so deep a chasm,
    He fell, and bit the bloody ground,
      In a most frightful spasm.
    The Orange banner was displayed
      By youthful Ensign Legoe,
    Who was by war’s sad chance soon laid
      Low as the other hero:
    In this predicament he found
      Himself in no small hazard,
    When a rude bullet of ten pound
      Rebounded from his mazzard
    He fell upon his brawny back
      To the cold marble pavement;
    The victors beat him like a sack,
      By way of entertainment.
    She said, “Go, vagrant, to the shades,
      And tell Sir John the story,
    How a small band of Carbery maids
      Pulled down the Orange glory.”
    Sir Parker, seeing his banner fall,
      His warlike troops defeated,
    Under the cover of a wall
      To a small fort retreated,
    Where he and all his Garde de Corps
      Lay for some time securely,
    And braved the clamor and uproar
      Of th’ Amazonian fury.
    But while the hero from within
      Fired on a brave virago,
    Who then pursued four of his men
      With vengeance and bravado,
    A rocky fragment from without
      Made a most grievous rattle
    Upon his cheek, his eye knocked out--
      Which finished all the battle.
    Some of his men in ditches lay
      To shun their near extinction;
    Some from their helmets tore away
      The badges of distinction;
    Some in the public streets declared
      Against the name and Order.
    And thus our Orange heroes fared
      The day they crossed the border.

I print the “Battle of Ross” not to foster the feuds it represents, but
to show the agencies that create them; I print it because the battle
occurred in my native town; because my people were in the battle;
because it was a fireside story in every house around me when I was a
boy, and because my “Recollections” would not be complete without it.
I have through life done as much as one Irishman could do to checkmate
the common enemy’s work of fostering those feuds; I am growing into the
mood of mind of thinking that I have done more than I would care to do
again could I live my life over, because the gain of a few Protestants
or Orangemen here and there to the side of the cause of their country’s
independence, is not worth the time and trouble that it takes to
convince them you want that independence for some purpose other than
that of killing all the Protestants and all the Orangemen of Ireland.

The poem is published in Dr. Campion’s Life of Michael Dwyer. It is
from that book, sold by P. J. Kenedy, of 5 Barclay street, New York,
that I copy it now. My childhood story of the battle is, that the men
of Ross did not engage in it at all; that martial law was in force
at the time; that the parade of the Orangemen was only a provocation
to make the Irishmen show themselves and put them in the power of
the law, and have them either shot down or put to prison; but, that
the women of the town sallied out, and with sticks and stones put the
Orangemen to flight. Their leader, Parker Roche, lost an eye from the
stroke of a stone hurled at him by “brave Maria,” Mary O’Mahony (Baan),
or “Mauria Vhaan,” as the people familiarly called her.

The leaders of those Orangemen were the people who led the North Cork
Militia into Wexford in ’98, and sixteen years before that, they
were some of the people that were leaders of the volunteers of ’82,
about whom I think a little too much has been said in praise and
plaumaus. I look at the names and titles of the Cork delegates to the
convention of Dungannon in 1782, and I find them much the same as the
names and titles of those who commanded the Irish volunteers of Cork,
and the North Cork Militia, who were fighting for England in Wexford
in ’98. Just look at these names as I take them from the history of
the volunteers of 1782; by Thomas McNevin and Thornton MacMahon.
“Delegates to the Convention of Dungannon, County of Cork, Right Hon.
Lord Kingsborough, Francis Bernard, Esq., Col. Roche, Sir John Conway
Colthurst, Major Thomas Fitzgerald.”

Names of the Irish Volunteers, County of Cork--Bandon Independent
Company, Col. Francis Bernard.

Carbery Independent Company, Capt. John Townsend.

Duhallow Rangers, Lieut.-Col. William Wrixon.

Imokilly Horse, Col. Roche.

Kanturk Volunteers, the Earl of Egmont.

Mitchelstown Light Dragoons, Lord Kingsborough.

Ross Carberry Volunteers, Col. Thomas Hungerford.

Carbery Independents, Captain Commanding, William Beecher.

Doneraile Rangers, Col. St. Leger Lord Doneraile.

Bantry Volunteers, Col. Hamilton White.

That Col. Hamilton White is very likely the same White who got the
title of Lord Bantry, fourteen years after, for making a show of
resisting the landing of the French in Bantry Bay in 1796. The whole
army of those volunteers of ’82 was officered by the English landlord
garrison of Ireland--in every county of Ireland; and so much English
were they, that they would not allow a Catholic Irishman into their
ranks. Why, the great Henry Grattan himself opposed the admission
of Catholic Irishmen into the ranks of the Irish Volunteers. In his
opposition to a motion made in the Irish Parliament House in 1785, he

“I would now wish to draw the attention of the House to the alarming
measure of drilling the lowest classes of the populace by which a stain
had been put on the character of the volunteers. The old, the original
volunteers, had become respectable because they represented the
property of the nation. But attempts had been made to arm the poverty
of the kingdom. They had originally been the armed property--were they
to become ‘_the armed beggary_?’”

The words “the armed beggary” are italicized in the history I quote
from. And who profited by that “beggary” of the unarmed people? The
plunderers who made them beggars, and who assembled in Dungannon--not
to free Ireland, but to fortify themselves in the possession of their

I don’t know how it is that on this subject of the volunteers of ’82,
I think differently from other people. I can’t help it; ’tis my nature
some way. And I’m cross and crooked other ways, too. I remember one
day, thirty odd years ago, in The Irish People office in Dublin, the
company in the editor’s room were talking of Tom Moore, the poet. I
said there were some very bad things in his writings, and I did not
care to laud to the skies an Irishman who would tell us to

                  “Blame not the bard,
    If he try to forget what he never can heal.”

The editor remarked that I did not understand his writings.

I suppose I did not. Nor do I suppose I understand them to-day; for I
cannot yet conceive how any Irishman can be considered an Irish patriot
who will sing out to his people, either in prose or verse, that it is
impossible to free Ireland from English rule. Show me that anything
else is meant by the line,

    “If he try to forget what he never can heal,”

and I will apologize to the memory of Moore. That is what England wants
the Irish people to learn. That is what she wants taught to them. And
that is what she is willing to pay teachers of all kinds for teaching
them--teaching them it is better to forget the evils they never can
heal--better forget all about Irish freedom, as they can never obtain
it. That’s the meaning of the song, and while I have a high opinion of
the poetic talent of the man who made it, I cannot laud the spirit of
it, or laud the maker of it for his patriotism; I incline rather to
pity him in the poverty and cupidity that forced him, or seduced him,
to sing and play into the enemy’s hands.



In the year 1841, the family of my father’s brother Cornelius, sold
out their land and their house, and went to America. In that house the
priests used to have their dinner on “Conference” days in Ross. My
uncle had recently died. His widow was Margaret, the daughter of Daniel
O’Donoghue, who belonged to a family of O’Donoghues whom England had
plundered. She had four daughters and two sons: Mary, Ellen, Julia,
Margaret, Denis and Daniel. They settled first in Philadelphia. All the
girls are dead; Julia died lately, a nun in a convent at Altoona, Penn.
The two boys are living in Jackson, Tenn. It is that family started to
bring out my father’s family from Ireland, when they heard in 1847 that
my father died, and that we were evicted. One incident of the time that
my uncle’s family left Ross made a picture in my mind that will remain
in it forever. Sunday night a band of musicians came from Clonakilty,
and they were playing at the house all night. It couldn’t be a happy
Harvest-home festival. It was the sadder one of a breaking up of
house and home. Monday morning those “Irish missioners” started for
Cork. I joined the procession that went with them out of town. Out at
Starkey’s, at Cregane, it halted. There, there was crying all around
by the people, as if it was a party of friends they were burying in a

I came back home with the company. My father was not able to go out
of the house that day. He asked me all about the parting; and when I
had told my story he commenced to cry, and kept crying for a half an
hour or so. He made me ashamed of him, for here was I, a mere child,
that was strong enough not to cry at all, and here was he, crying out
loudly, as if he was a baby.

That’s the picture I cannot get out of my mind. But I cry now, in spite
of me, while writing about it.

The English recruiting-soldiers would come to Ross those days and take
many of the boys away with them, and then there was more crying of
mothers, at having their children join the red-coats. Some man that I
did not know was in our house for a few weeks. He remained in bed all
the time. He had me at his bedside much of the time, telling me stories
and playing with me. One dark night he came downstairs. The backdoor
was opened, and out he went. I saw his shadow going up through the hill
of the Fairfield. Mary Regan was the only strange woman in the house at
the time, and she cryingly kissed and kissed the man before he left the

When I grew up to manhood I occasionally visited Ross, and Mary Regan
would ullagone at seeing me, and draw a crowd around, telling of the
little child who was the playmate of her boy when he was in the Hue and
Cry on the run, and never told any one a word about his being for weeks
in his father’s house. Her boy was Jemmie Regan, who had ’listed some
time before that, and had deserted.

I saw another Ross deserter in the city of Lawrence, Mass., some
quarter of a century ago. I was lecturing there one night. I was
telling of Jillen Andy, whom I buried in the year 1847 without a
coffin. A tall, grey-headed man in the audience commenced to cry, and
came up to the platform to embrace me. I saw him in Ross when I was
a child, when as a red-coat soldier he came home on furlough. He had
lived next door to Jillen Andy. He was John Driscoll, the sister’s
son of that North Cork militiaman, Dan Roe, of whom I have spoken in
a previous chapter as having been at the battle of Vinegar Hill. This
John Driscoll of Lawrence had deserted from the English Army in Canada,
and reached America by swimming across the river St. Lawrence.

I am writing too much about crying in this chapter. It is no harm for
me to add that I must have been a kind of cry-baby in my early days,
for when I grew up to be big, the neighbors used to make fun of me,
telling of the time I’d be coming home from school, and how I’d roar
out crying for my dinner as soon as I’d come in sight of the house.

The life of my boyhood was a varied kind of life. I had as much to do
as kept me active from morning till night. Early in the morning I had
to be out of bed to drive the hens out of the fields. The two town
fields were bounded at the eastern side by the Rock village, inhabited
mostly by fishermen. The fishermen had wives; those wives had flocks
of hens, and those flocks of hens at dawn of day would be into the
fields, scraping for the seed sown in springtime, and pulling down the
ripening ears of corn coming on harvest-time. No matter how early I’d
be out of bed, the hens would be earlier in the field before me. My
principal assistant in chasing them out and keeping them out was my
little dog Belle. The hens knew Belle and knew me as well as any living
creature would know another. But they were more afraid of Belle than
of me, for when I’d show myself at the town side of the field, going
toward them, they’d take their leisure leaving the field when Belle was
not with me; but if Belle was with me, they’d run and fly for their

Belle and I stole a march on them one day. We went a roundabout way to
get to the rear of them. We went up Ceim hill, and by the old chapel
schoolhouse, and down through the Rock. Then Belle went into the field
and killed two of the hens. This brought on a war between the women of
the Rock and my mother, and peace was made by having the Rock women
agree to muffle up the legs of their hens in lopeens, so that they
could not scratch up the seed out of the ground. It would not be a
bad thing at all if the Irish people would take a lesson from me in
my dealings with the hens of the Rock that were robbing my father’s
fields--if they would do something that would make the English put
lopeens upon her English landlord scratch-robbers of Ireland.

Approaching harvest-time, the work of my care-taking was doubled by my
trying to protect the wheat-field from the sparrows that lived on the
Rock and in the town. They knew me, too, and knew Belle. They, too,
were more afraid of Belle than of me. I could not throw stones at them,
for my father told me that every stone I threw into the cornfield would
break some ears of corn, and if I continued throwing stones I would
do as much damage as the sparrows were doing. I had a “clappers” to
frighten them away, but a flock of these sparrows, each perched upon an
ear of corn, and picking away at it, cared as little about the noise of
my clappers as England cares about the noise Irish patriot orators make
in trying to frighten her out of Ireland by working the clappers of
their mouths.

My experience with the Irish crows was much the same as with the
sparrows. There was a rookery convenient in the big trees in
Beamish’s lawn, and flocks of those crows would come into the
fields in springtime to scrape up grains of wheat, and skillauns of
seed-potatoes. My father got some dead crows, and hung them on sticks
in the fields, thinking that would frighten away the living crows. I
don’t know could he have learned that from the English, who spiked
the head of Shawn O’Neill on Dublin’s Castle tower, and the heads of
other Irishmen on other towers, to frighten their countrymen away from
trespassing upon England’s power in Ireland. Anyway, the Irish crows
did not care much about my father’s scarecrows, nor about my clappers.
It was only when a few shots were fired at them from guns, and a dozen
of them left dead on the field, that they showed any signs of fear of
again coming into the field.

A strange character of a man named Carthy Spauniach used to travel
the roads I had to travel those days. The mothers would frighten their
refractory children by saying, “I’ll give you to Carthy Spauniach.”
He had the character of being a kind of madman. He seemed to have no
fixed home, he had no appearance of a beggarman; nor did he go around
our place begging; he was fairly, comfortably dressed; he walked with
a quick pace; sometimes he’d stop and ask me who I was; then he’d tell
me those fields and grounds belonged to my people once; that they ought
to belong to my people now; but they belonged to strangers now, who had
no right to them; that they ought to be mine. After talking that way
for some time, he’d suddenly start away from me. Sane or insane, he
spoke the truth. He was called a madman; but looking at him from this
distance of half a century, I’d regard him as a victim of England’s
plunder, who embraced the mission of preaching the true faith to the
children of his plundered race. I know how men get a bad name, and are
called madmen, for speaking and acting in the true faith regarding
Ireland’s rights. I have myself been called a madman, because I was
acting in a way that was not pleasing to England. The longer I live,
the more I come to believe that Irishmen will have to go a little mad
my way, before they go the right way to get any freedom for Ireland.
And why shouldn’t an Irishman be mad; when he grows up face to face
with the plunderers of his land and race, and sees them looking down
upon him as if he were a mere thing of loathing and contempt! They
strip him of all that belongs to him, and make him a pauper, and not
only that, but they teach him to look upon the robbers as gentlemen,
as beings entirely superior to him. They are called “the nobility,”
“the quality”; his people are called the “riffraff--the dregs of
society.” And, mind you! some of our Irish people accept that teaching
from them, and act and speak up to it. And so much has the slavery
of it got into their souls, and into the marrow of their bones, that
they to-day will ridicule an O’Byrne, an O’Donnell, an O’Neill, an
O’Sullivan, a MacCarthy, a MacMahon or Maguire, if they hear him say
that such and such a Castle in Ireland and such and such a part of the
lands of Ireland belonged to his people. It is from sneerers and slaves
of that kind that the “stag” and the informer come; the Irishman who
is proud of his name and his family and his race, will rarely or never
do anything to bring shame and disgrace upon himself or upon any one
belonging to him.

Another odd character besides Carthy Spauniach used to travel my road
occasionally. His day was Sunday. Every fine Sunday he’d be dressed up
in the height of fashion, walking backward and forward this road that I
had to walk to guard the crops from the birds of the air and the hens
of the hamlet. This man’s name was Mick Tobin; his passion was in his
person; he was a big, hearty, good-looking man, some thirty years of
age; he fancied that every girl that would look at him couldn’t look
at him without falling in love with him, and every fine Sunday he’d
be walking that strand road between the Rock and Beamish’s gate, that
the Miss Hungerfords and the Miss Jenningses and the other “ladies of
quality” may see him as they were coming from church, and that he may
see them.

If I told Mick, after the ladies had passed him, that I heard one of
them say to her companion, “What a handsome man he is?” I’d be the
white headed boy with Mick. Mick’s strong weakness ran in the line
of love and self-admiration. I have often thought of him, for in my
wandering walk of life I have met men like him, met them in the line of
Irish revolution, looking upon themselves as the beauties of creation,
and imagining that the whole Irish race should look upon them as the
heaven-sent leaders of the movement for Irish freedom. God help their
poor foolish heads! I bring that expression from my mother, “God help
your poor foolish head!” she’d say to me when I’d be telling her of the
things I’d do for Ireland when I grew up to be a man. Ah! my mother was
Irish. I saw her in 1848 tear down the placard the peelers had pasted
upon the shutters, telling the people that Lamartine, in the name of
France, had refused to give any countenance to the Dublin Young Ireland
delegation that went over to Paris with an address.

I’ll speak more about that matter when I grow older.

John Dowling, of Limerick, met me yesterday in Broadway, New York, and
told me I forgot “My Mother.” I looked interrogatingly at him. “Ah,”
said he, “don’t you remember the poem that was in the schoolbooks about
“My Mother”--you forgot to say anything about it in what you wrote in
the paper last week.” “You’re right, John, you’re right,” said I; “I
did forget her:

    Who ran to take me when I fell,
    And would some pretty story tell,
    And kiss the part to make it well.
                            My mother.”

“And you also left out,” said he, these two lines in the “Signs of

    Low o’er the grass the swallow wings,
    The cricket, too, how sharp he sings!

“Right there, too,” said I. “But it shows that what I said was
true--that I was quoting from memory, and that I was not looking into
books to see whether my memory was right or wrong.”

Oh, no, Mr. Dowling, I don’t forget my mother, a tall, straight,
handsome woman, when I was a child; looking stately in the long, hooded
cloak she used to wear; a prematurely old, old woman when I saw her
in this foreign land some years after, looking older by wearing an
American bonnet instead of an Irish cloak, when I saw her Philadelphia
in 1863.

I was up on the half-hatch of the door at home one day; I was looking
at Lord Carbery’s hounds passing by--Geary, the huntsman, sounding the
bugle; the horses prancing, carrying the “quality,” booted and spurred,
and dressed in their hunting jackets of green and gold and orange.
After they had passed, I came down from my perch on the half-hatch, and
I heard my mother say of them to Kit. Brown:

“Ah! ’Ta oor la aguiv-se ’sa saol-seo, acht, beig aar la aguinne ’sa
sao’l eile.”

Ah you have your day in this world; but we’ll have our day in the next.

This resignation to the existing condition of things in the fallen
fortunes of our people was on the tongue of my mother. I don’t know
that it was in her heart or in her spirit. I do not think it was. Our
priests preached it. I do not think it was in their heart either. It
couldn’t be; they were Irish, and belonged to the plundered race.
But--but what? I don’t know: Father Jerry Molony knew as well as any
priest living how his congregation came to be poor; when the Soupers
would come to the parish to bribe the people into becoming Sassenachs,
he’d say there were people present in the congregation whose families
gave up all they had in the world rather than give up their faith. My
family claimed the honor of that, and prided in it. The priest had
no other consolation to give, but the consolation of religion, and,
very likely, it was through religion my father and mother learned--and
tried--to lighten the load of life, by telling us that the poorer you
are the nearer you are to God, and that the more your sufferings are in
this world the greater will be your reward in the next.

If that be gospel truth, and I hope it is, there are no people on earth
nearer to heaven than the Irish people.



There were three or four hillocks in the field near the schoolhouse,
that grew nothing but bushes and briars, and in these hillocks linnets
and goldfinches would build their nests. I never robbed any of these
nests, and the birds seemed to understand that I would not hurt or harm
them. The mother would sit there hatching, she looking at me and I
looking at her, and would not fly away unless I stretched out my hand
to catch her. I was great at finding birds’ nests, and occasionally
of a Sunday I’d go into the neighboring woods looking for them. One
Sunday I went to Starkey’s wood at Cregane, about a mile outside the
town. I entered it, there near where the Jackey-boys lived. I went
through the line of trees that run into Ownaheencha cross, till I came
to another ditch. Then I leaped into a meadow, and as I leaped, a big
blackbird began to screech and run fluttering, clattering and crying
“chuc-chuc-chuc chuc-chuc.” I must have leaped on the bird’s wing; I
must have wounded her some way, when she could not fly; so I thought,
and so I ran after her to catch her. But the rogue could fly, though
she never went more than a few yards ahead of me. At the end of the
field I thought I had her cornered, but she rose up and flew over the
ditch into the next field. I retraced my steps to the place where I
leaped into the field. I looked to see if I would find any feathers or
any sign of my having leaped upon the bird, and on looking I found in
the side of the ditch a nest with five young ones in it, with their
mouths wide open to receive the food they thought their father or
mother was going to give them. I did a very cruel thing that day: I
robbed that nest; I took it away with me. On my way home Captain Wat.
Starkey met me; Corley Garraviagh was wheeling him in a hand carriage;
I had the nest on my head. “Those are my birds you have,” he said.
“Where did you get them?” I didn’t mind him, but walked on.

I suppose they were his birds, for those English land-robbers of
Ireland claim dominion of “all the birds in the air, and all the fishes
in the sea.”

That bird whose nest I robbed has often reminded me of Gladstone,
the Prime Minister of England, and the prime hypocrite Governor of
Ireland. Or, more correctly speaking, I should say this Gladstone,
Prime Minister of England, in his government of Ireland, has often
reminded me of that blackbird. The ruse she played to get me away from
her nest is the ruse he has played to get Irishmen away from the work
that would rob him of Ireland. Irishmen in the hands of English jailers
are snatched away from them in the heart of England; English castles
are blown down; English governors of Ireland are slain; there is terror
in England--terror in the hearts of Englishmen. Gladstone chuckles
“chuc-chuc-chuc-chuc, I’ll give you Home Rule for Ireland.” Irishmen
listen to him; they follow him; he flies away from them; his eyesight
gets bad, and he is blind to all his promises of Home Rule for Ireland.
Irishmen are divided; the work that struck terror into the heart of the
Englishman is abandoned by them; his eyesight is restored to him, and
he is now writing Bible history. His “chuc chuc-chuc” is so much akin
to my blackbird’s “chuc-chuc-chuc” that I christen her the “Gladstone

But the resemblance holds good only as regards the use of the cry. The
objects and purposes of its use are different. The poor bird cried
“chuc, chuc,” to save her children from destruction. Gladstone cried
“chuc, chuc,” to keep the children of Ireland in the hands of their

And how many are the storied memories that possess me now in connection
with that road I traveled the day I robbed the blackbird’s nest! It
was on that road I shook hands with Daniel O’Connell; it was on that
road Cliona, the fairy queen, used to enlist lovers; that was the road
I traveled going to the fair of Newmill, and the road I traveled the
day I went to Lord Carberry’s funeral. I have spoken of the Jackey-boys
living on that roadside. Who were they? They were boys of the name of
O’Mahony, “rough and ready roving boys, like Rory of the Hill.” They
had a farm of land; they had a fishing boat, and they had the name of,
one way or another, getting the better of any of the English garrison
party that would do them a wrong. Two of them were out on the seacliffs
one day, robbing an eagle’s nest. A rope was tied to a pannier; one of
them went into the pannier; the other let the pannier slide down till
it was at the nest. The young ones were put into the pannier, and on
the way up the mother eagle attacked the robber. The pannier got some
jostling; the rope got jagged against the crags, and one of its strands
got broken. The brother in the basket below cried out to the brother on
the cliff above, “Dar fia! Shawn, ’ta ceann do na stroundee bristeh”
(By this and by that, Jack, one of the strands is broken). “Coimead thu
fein go socair,” said the other. “Ni’l aon bao’al ort, chun go brisig
an tarna strounda.” (Keep quiet; there is no fear of you till the
second strand breaks.)

That Starkey road is the road on which I met Daniel O’Connell. Yes;
there were crowds of people on it the day he was coming from the
Curragh meeting in Skibbereen, in the year 1843. Through the crowd of
people, between the legs of some of them, I made my way to the carriage
the liberator was in. I was raised up, and had a hearty shake hands
with him.

It was the road Cliona, the fairy queen used to travel. Yes, and her
fairy home of Carrig-Cliona is quite convenient to it. But I don’t
know whether she is living still. When I was in Ireland a year ago, it
looked to me as if the Irish fairies were dead too. In those early days
of mine this Cliona used to “show” herself on moonlight nights, robed
in sunlight splendor. Every young man she’d meet between the cross
of Barnamarrav and the Castle of Rathabharrig would be subjected to
examination by her, and if she found him to her liking, he was taken to
her cave, or put under an obligation to meet her a certain night in
the future. Before that certain night came the young man was dead; and,
of course, the pith of this fairy story is, that the fairy queen took
him away with her. She hugged to death every one she fell in love with.
The Irish poets prayed for deliverance from her fatally bewitching
influence. It was of her the poet, in the poem of “O’Donovan’s
daughter,” hymned the prayer:

    “God grant! ’tis no fay from Cnoc Aoibhin that woos me,
    God grant! ’tis not Cleena the queen, that pursues me.”

I said that the road of Cliona’s travels was the road I used to travel
going to the fair of Newmill. Is there anything in that recollection
that would make any kind of an interesting story? There is, and it is

At the fair at Newmill there used to be faction fights, and there used
to be companies of policemen under the command of Gore Jones. The
policemen would be encamped in a field near by--in the field next to
the fair. Their arms would be stacked there. In the evening a fight
would commence among the factions. The police would not stir. Gore
Jones would not give them any orders to rush in and make peace while
the fight was going on. But when the fight was over, he’d rush into
the fair field with his men and arrest all who had any signs of blood
on them. They were handcuffed and taken to the jail of Ross, and then
their families and their friends were kept for days and weeks after,
going around to the different landlord magistrates making interest and
influence to get them out of jail. That was all a trick of the English
government in Ireland, a trick to bring the people whom England had
robbed and plundered, more and more under compliment and obligation to
those landlord magistrates who were living in possession of the robbery
and plunder. They gain their point when they can keep the people always
begging and praying to them for some little favor. You now understand
why it is that when I am speaking to the Irish people at home and
abroad about my recollections, I consider it an interesting thing to
them to speak of the fair of Newmill.

What else is that I brought in? Yes, my Blackbird road was the road we
traveled the day I went to Lord Carbery’s funeral. I have a purpose,
too, in speaking of that. It must be some time about the year 1844.
With four or five other boys, I mootched from school that day and went
to Rath-a-Bharrig, or Castlefreke, as it is christened in the language
of the plundering Frekes. Before the Cromwellian time, it, and the land
around it belonged to the Barrys, of the Norman time.

When we got to the wake-house we did not get in; in fact we kept away
from it, because as we ran away from school we did not want to let
our fathers see us, so I went over to the lake to look at the swans.
I found a swan’s nest with three eggs in it--the largest eggs that
ever I saw. I had to put my two hands around one of them, taking it
up, showing it to my companions. When the bells rang for the funeral
service to move, I took my position behind a big tree in view of the
avenue the people would pass through. I watched for my father, and when
I saw him, with a piece of white calico around his hat, I got mad,
for I knew my father was mad at being subjected to such humiliation,
and at being obliged to wear such a menial garb of mourning at such
a funeral. The word had been sent around by the gentry that all the
tenants on the Carbery estate were to attend the lord’s funeral, and
though my father was not paying rent directly to the Carbery lord,
still, as his holding was looked upon as the Carbery property, he
attended. I will give explanation on this subject by and by.

It appears to me in writing these pages that I am very anxious to get
out of my childhood, and out of my boyhood days, and as I cannot get
back to them once I get out, nor see any use in singing:

    “Would I were a boy again,”

I will remain a boy as long as I can.

I was naturally very quiet and gentle when a boy--just as I am
to-day--except when I was put to it, and when I was forced to be
otherwise. I had five or six boxing bouts with schoolfellows--with
Mike Crone, Micky Feen, Stephen Lovejoy, Pat Callanan and Paak
Cullinane--but I never struck the first blow. Paak Cullinane and I
were among the boys who went up to the Ardagh road bowling. He and I
were made markers. On one occasion I thought he marked the throw of
one of his friends a foot ahead of where the bowl stopped. I objected,
and without his saying a word, the first thing he did was to give me a
thump in the face.

He had the name of being the best boxer in the school, and could with
impunity strike any one he got vexed with, but when he struck me,
I struck back, and the fight had to be stopped, to stop the blood
that was running from his nose. The fight with Mike Crone ended by my
getting a lump on the forehead that made me give up the contest, and
the other three were drawn battles.

But I never had any fight or falling-out with any of the girls of
my acquaintance. They were all very fond of me, and when my mother
would keep me in, to learn my lessons, I’d hear Mary Hurley and
Ellen Fitzpatrick and Menzie Crone and Ponticilia Barrett come as a
delegation from the girls outside, asking her to let Jer. come out to
play with them.

You never saw any illuminations at the bottom of the sea. I saw them,
and I used to take those girls to see them. Bounding our fields, was
the strand. This strand was about a half a mile wide, every way; it had
a sandy bottom, in which cockles had their home. There was no water in
the strand, when the tide was out. But when the tide was coming in, or
going out, and when the water would be about twelve inches deep, as
pretty a sight as you could see would be to walk through that water,
and see “the cockles lighting.” The sun should be shining, and you
should walk the strand with your face to the sun, so that your shadow
would fall behind you. Then every home of a cockle would be lighted:
you’d see through the cockle’s chamber door,--through a little hole
that a knitting needle would fill--the light down in the sand, like a
little taper burning. ’Twas a pretty picture; I’d go a mile off to-day
to see it again. But those days are passed and gone.

Nor, can I ever again, see the sun dancing on an Easter Sunday morning
as it used to dance when I was a boy, over the general rejoicing on
that day. It was to be seen through burned glass, and on Saturday night
I’d have my glass burned, ready to look at the sun next morning, if the
morning was fine.

    Our Pagan sires, our strifes would shun,
    They saw their heaven, through the sun,
    Their God smiled down on every one
      In Ireland over the water.

Those are lines I wrote when in an English prison years ago. I suppose
I was thinking of our Pagan fathers, who, it is said, worshipped the
sun. Irish historians--historians of the Catholic church in Ireland
tell us, that Saint Patrick, and other Apostles of Christianity,
allowed many of the harmless habits and customs of the Irish people
to remain with them; that they did not insist on the abolition of
some practices that tended to the worship of a Supreme Being, and it
is as reasonable as anything else to suppose that our Pagan fathers,
in worshipping the sun, was only worshipping the Supreme Power that
put that sun in the heavens. It was, and is to-day, the most visible
manifestation of the Great God of the Universe.

On the eve of La Sowna, November day--and on the eve of La
Bealtheine--May day, there are practices carried on in Ireland that
must have come down to our people from times anterior to the time of
Saint Patrick. I remember Jemmie Fitzpatrick taking me with him up
to his farm in Ardagh one May evening, to bless the growing crops.
I carried the little sheaves of straw that he had prepared for the
occasion. When he came to the grounds, he took one of the sheaves and
lit it. Then, we walked around every field, he, as one sheaf would burn
out, taking another from me, and lighting it. This, no doubt, is some
relic that comes down to us from those times that poets and historians
tell us the Baal-fires were lighted throughout the land.

Speaking of Patrick’s day celebrations, I don’t know that I have the
enthusiasm regarding them to-day that I had in my schooldays.

Many and many a time I drew the blood from my fingers to paint
the section red part of the crosses that I used to be making for
the celebration of the day. The green color I’d get, by gathering
pennyleaves in the garden, and bruising out the juice of them, and the
yellow color would come to me from the yolk of an egg. If I hadn’t a
compass to make my seven circle cross, I’d make a compass out of a
little goulogue sprig of a whitethorn tree--fastening a writing pen to
one leg of it. John Cushan, the master, would not let the boys make the
crosses at school.

And often that school time of mine comes up to me, when I hear friends
in New York talking of their schooldays in Ireland--when I hear, as
I heard the other night, Pat Egan asking Pat Cody and John O’Connor,
if they remembered the time when they were carrying the sods of turf
under their arms to school. That was jokingly cast at them, as kind of
aspachaun; but I remember that I, myself, often carried the sods of
turf under my arm to school; and if there is any fire in anything I
write in this book, I suppose that is how it comes.



The landlords of Ireland are the lords of Ireland. England makes them
landlords first, and then, to put the brand of her marauding nobility
on them, she makes them English lords. And they do lord it over the
Irish people, and ride rough-shod over every natural and acquired right
belonging to them. Whether born in England or Ireland, they must be
English, and anti-Irish in spirit, in action and in religion. Some of
my readers may say that some of the lords and the landlords in Ireland
at the present day are Catholics. So they are, and so were a few of
them in my day, and so were the whole of them in the days preceding the
time of Henry VIII. But if they were, they were English and anti-Irish
all the same, and the marauding Catholic Englishman, coming over to
Ireland on his mission of murder and plunder during the three hundred
years preceding Martin Luther’s time, murdered Irishmen as mercilessly
and plundered them as ruthlessly as he has done during the last three
hundred years that he is a Protestant. It is not religion, but booty,
the Englishman is after in this world. Of course, religion is very
useful to him. It furnishes him with a pretext to enter a country and
to take soundings in it,

    With the Bible on his lips,
    But the devil in his deeds.

And what is more than that, neither religion nor nationality ever stood
in the way of his plundering and murdering the children of the English
invader who landed in Ireland a century or so before he landed there.

The Cromwellians plundered the Strongbownians, and the English
transported and murdered the Protestant Mitchels and Fitzgeralds, who
resisted their plunder, as readily as they did the Catholic O’Neills
and O’Donnells.

And, holy Jehoshaphat! how wholly and firmly did these freebooters
plant themselves in Ireland. I stand on the top of that hill where
my schoolhouse stood, and I see the lighthouse of the Fastnet Rock
and Cape Clear, straight out before me in the open sea; I see the
ships sailing between the Cove of Cork and America, every steamer
passing showing a long trail of steam like the tail of a comet. And
what else do I see before me and all around me? I see the imprint of
the invader’s footsteps, the steps he has taken to fortify himself in
possession of his plunder, and to guard himself from assault from the
victims of that plunder--for many of these victims must be wandering
around the locality still. I look to the north, and I see to the right
the Castle of Cahirmore, the residence of the Hungerfords. I go up the
Cahirmore road (as I often went going to the home of my grandfather),
and at my left hand side, for half a mile, is a wall higher than a
man’s height. I cannot see the grounds or anything on the grounds
inside the wall, but I hear the beautiful peacocks crying out to one

I look to the left, and I see the Castle of Derry, the residence of
the Townsends. I walk up the Derry road, and for a half a mile of
that road, to my left, there is built a wall higher than myself that
prevents me from seeing any of the beauties of the demesne inside.

I look to the south, and to my right, at Rowry is the Bleazby
residence, walled around by a wall some fifteen feet high, with the
Smith family at Doneen further south, having another wall around them
equally high.

I look to the south at my left and there is Castle Freke the residence
of Lord Carberry. There is a wall around the castle and demesne here,
that is, I suppose, some two miles in circumference, a high wall, as
around the other places around Ross.

I traveled through England, Scotland, Wales and France, and I did not
see those high walls around the residences and the grounds of any of
the people.

I traveled every county in Ireland and I saw them in every county. In
Monaghan one day I wanted to see James Blaney Rice of Tyholland. I came
out of the railway train at Glaslough station, and walked a bit into
the country, taking a roundabout way to go to the house. At the left
hand side of the road I walked, there was a wall some ten feet high for
a long distance. I got out of humor with that wall, as it shut out from
me a view of the whole country side. When I got to James Rice, I asked
him who lived inside that wall; he said it was Leslie the landlord and
land agent. That’s in Ulster. In Connacht I walked out from Ballinasloe
one day to see the grounds on which the battle of Aughrim was fought.
I had a walk of about three miles, and at my right hand side during a
long distance of that walk there was a wall higher than my head, that
hid from me the castle and the grounds of Lord Clancarty.

In Leinster one day John Powell of Birr took me out for a drive through
Kings County. He drove as far as the banks of the Shannon. There
was the residence of Lord Rosse walled around in the castle of the
O’Carrolls; and the castle of the O’Dempseys, walled around in the
residence of Lord Bernard.

And look at the castle of Kilkenny, the residence of the Butlers, the
lords of Ormond. Around the grounds is a wall twelve feet high. Tom
Doyle of Kilkenny told me yesterday that that wall had a circumference
of four miles and that, in the neighborhood of the city, the wall in
some places was twenty feet, and thirty feet high.

That, no doubt, was to save the plunderer inside from fear from any
missiles being aimed at him by any of the plundered people from the
housetops of the city. Those Butlers--the Ormonds, were often fighting
about boundaries and other matters with the Fitzgeralds, the lords of
Desmond. The two families came in, in the Strongbownian time. It is
said of them that they became more Irish than the Irish themselves.
That transition came on naturally. Ireland became a hunting ground for
marauding Englishmen. The Englishmen of the thirteenth century learned
that the invaders of the twelfth century had got a “soft snap” of it
in Ireland, and they tried their luck there. They trespassed on the
possessions of the Desmonds and the Ormonds; so the Fitzgeralds and
the Butlers planted in Ireland had to fight against the new English
coming in. And thus it came into Irish history that some of these
Butlers and Fitzgeralds have been century after century declared in
rebellion against England.

The old saying has it that a guilty conscience needs no accuser. Those
walls were not built around the castles of Ireland ’til the English
came into Ireland.

Prendergast in his book of the “Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland,” and
Regnault, in his “Criminal History of England,” and other historians
say they were built for the double purpose of securing the claim from
other plunderers who would want to dispute the boundary, and of saving
the plunderer from the chance of getting a bullet or a stone or any
other hostile missile or message from any of the plundered people in
the neighborhood.

Those plunderers know they deserve it, and that is why they try to
shelter themselves against it. That is how it is that England has
passed so many laws to keep arms of all kinds out of the hands of
the Irish people, and how she has passed so many laws to kill the
Irish language out of their tongues. She passed those laws against
the language, because wherever that language is spoken it gives the
name and ownership of the castle to the old Irish owner of it. Lord
Rosse’s castle in Birr is to-day called by the Irish-speaking people
“Caislean ui Carrooil,” the Castle of the O’Carrolls; Castle Bernard,
the residence of the Earl of Bandon, is called Caislean ui Mahoona;
Castle Freke, the residence of the Freke Lord Carbery, is called
“Rath-a-Bharrig,” the Castle of the Barrys, and so on throughout all

The Dublin “Gaelic Journal” for the month of May, 1896, has come
to me as I write this chapter. I look at it and see a few lines
that naturally fit in here. These are they; “Donghall, O’Donngaile,
O’Donnelly, Baile ui-Dhonnghaile, O’Donnelly’s town, now called
Castlecaulfield, County Tyrone.”

The English name or title has not a place in the Irish language, no,
nor has it caught on to the Irish tongue yet. Neither has it a place
in the Irish heart. Notwithstanding all that English laws have done to
blot Irish history, the Irish people, in the Irish language, still hold
their own.

That is why England has tried hard to kill the Irish language. Some of
my readers may think she is encouraging the cultivation of it now. She
is not; she doesn’t mean it; her heart is not in the professions she is
making, no more than was the heart of my hen blackbird Gladstone in the
professions about home rule that he was making for Ireland for the past
twenty years.

Yes, ’tis twenty years now since he made that Mid-Lothian speech, in
which he said “Ireland should be governed according to Irish ideas.”
He was out of office then. But, shortly after, he came into office,
and he put thousands of Irishmen into prison for having them dare to
think they ought to be governed by Irish ideas. And he kicked the Irish
members out of the English House of Commons for having them dare to
think Ireland should be governed according to Irish ideas.

’Tis my mother and father, God be good to them, that had the true
Irish natural feeling about those Englishmen governing Ireland.

I can see now how relieved they felt whenever they’d hear of a landlord
being shot in Tipperary or anywhere else in Ireland.

It was like an instinct with them that an enemy of theirs had been done
away with. That kind of instinct is in the whole Irish race to-day, and
if the power that supports landlordism in Ireland could be stricken
down, there would be a general jubilee of rejoicing in the land. Until
it is stricken down, there is no freedom, no home rule for Ireland.

Going into the town of Bandon one day, I overtook on the road a man
who had a car-load of hay. At the right hand side of the road was the
demesne of Lord Bandon. I was on horseback, and was high enough to
see over the wall, the mansion called Castle Bernard in the demesne.
“Go d’ aon caislean e sin thall ansann?” (what castle is that over
there) said I. “Caislean ui Mhahoona” (O’Mahony’s castle) said he. The
O’Mahonys are out of it, on a tramp through the world; the Bernards are
in it, and are lords of Bandon. And these are the lords that administer
the English laws to the people they have plundered. Take the present
day, and look at the list of grand jurors that are summoned the two
seasons of the year in every county in Ireland. They are the plunderers
who hold the lands and castles of the plundered people, and they sit
in judgment on the children of those to whom the lands and castles
belonged. And these children, in cases of difficulties with the law,
have to be running after the makers of that law for influence to get
them out of the troubles that eternally surround them.

One of the fireside stories that got into my mind when I was a child
was the story of a bill of indictment against my people, the time of
the “White boys.”

These “White boys” came into the bleach-field one night, and washed
their faces in the stream that ran by it, and dried themselves with the
linen that was bleaching in the field. Whatever offence the White boys
were charged with, my people were put into the indictment with them,
either as participants or sympathizers, or as assisting in the escape
of criminals who had committed offences. It was considered they knew
who blackened the linen, and they should be punished as they wouldn’t
tell on them. My grandfather, after using all the influence of all
the friends, had got some letters from the lords and landlords around
to the grand jury of the Cork assizes. He had them one evening, and
he should be in Cork city at ten o’clock next morning. There were no
trains running anywhere at that time. He got on horseback, and galloped
to Rossmore. He got a fresh horse at Rossmore. Then he galloped on to
Ballineen and got another fresh horse there; then another in Bandon,
and another in Ballinhassig that landed him at Cork city courthouse
before ten o’clock in the morning. He gave in his letters to the grand
jury, waited a few hours, and returned home with the news that the
bills were “ignored.” That is; that the grand jury “threw out” the
bills and did not follow up the prosecution of the case against the
people who owned the bleach.

You may think that’s a kind of a make-up of a story about my
grandfather getting three or four relays of horses all in one night. I
don’t wonder you would think so. Perhaps I thought so myself when I was
a child listening to it at the fireside; but, stop awhile; wait till
I come to write my chapter on genealogy, and come to show you how my
grandfather had family relations and connections in every corner of the
county, and then you will not be surprised at what I am saying. You’ll
be more surprised at what I have to say yet.

The White boy indictment was before I was born. Soon after I was born,
my father got into trouble with the head lord of the soil by selling to
Mick Hurley, the carpenter, four tall ash trees that were growing in
the kitchen garden back of the house. Lord Carberry claimed that the
trees belonged to the soil--belonged to him--and that my father had no
right to cut them down and sell them. My father had as much right to
that soil as Lord Carberry had; he had more right to it, in fact.

One of the Irish histories I read in my youth has these words: “The
O’Donovans--a branch of the MacCarthys--had extensive possessions in
the neighborhood of Ross.”

They owned all Ross, and all around it, but the turn in the world came
that turned them and turned many other old Irish families upside down,
and left the Englishmen on top.



When I was a little fellow, I got so much into my head about my
family, and about what great big people they were in the world before
I came among them, that when I grew up to be a man, I began to trace
the genealogy of that family, and I actually did trace it up the
generations through Ham, who was saved in Noah’s Ark, to Adam and Eve
who lived in the Garden of Paradise one time. While at this work, I
was for a few years in communication with John O’Donovan of No. 36
Northumberland Street, Dublin. He was professor of the Irish language
in Trinity College. At the college, and at his house I met him whenever
business would take me to Dublin. He had then seven children--seven
sons, “an effort of nature to preserve the name” as he says in one of
his letters to me. I don’t know--sometimes my thoughts are sad, at
thinking that perhaps it was my acquaintance with those children when
they were young, in the years ’54, ’5, ’6, ’7, ’8 and ’9, that brought
them into association with me, and with my crowd of people when I came
to live in Dublin entirely in the years 1864 and ’65. John, Edmond, and
Willie were the three oldest of the seven sons of John O’Donovan. The
three of them were put to jail in Dublin charged with connection with
Fenianism. John was drowned in St. Louis, Edmond was killed in Africa,
and I was at the funeral of Willie in Calvary cemetery, Brooklyn. I’ll
come to them again. Now, I’ll get back to my genealogy.

Some of my friends may say: “To Jericho with your genealogy; what do
we care about it! We are here in America, where one man is as good as
another.” That’s all right, for any one who wants to have done with
Ireland; all right for the man who can say, with him who said to me in
New York, one day, twenty-five years ago: “What is Ireland to me now?”
“Sure I’m an American citizen!” All right for him who wants to forget
all belonging to him in the past, and who wants to be the Adam and
Eve of his name and race, but it is otherwise for men who are no way
ashamed of those who have gone before them, and who do not want to bury
in the grave of American citizenship, all the duties they owe to their
motherland, while it remains a land enslaved.

It would be no harm at all, if men of Irish societies in America, in
introducing other men into these societies would know who were their
Irish fathers and mothers. Any man who is proud of belonging to the old
blood of Ireland, will never do anything to bring disgrace upon any
one belonging to him. I don’t mind how poor he is; the poorer he is,
the nearer he is to God; the nearer he is to sanctification through
suffering, and the more marks and signs he has of the hand of the
English enemy having been heavily laid upon him.

That hand has been heavily laid upon my race. I, even to-day, feel the
weight of it on myself. When the lands of Rossmore were confiscated
on my people, they moved to neighboring places, and were hunted from
those places, till at last a resting place was found in the town of
Ross Carberry. “My great-grandfather came into Ross Carberry with a hat
full of gold,” said Peggy Leary to me the other night, “and the family
were after being outcanted from seven places, from the time they left
Rossmore, till the time they settled in Ross.”

Calling in to Dan O’Geary of Glanworth on my way home from Peggie
Leary’s, I got talking to him about old times in Ireland, and I found
that Dan had a family story much like my own. “I heard my grandmother,
Sarah Blake, say,” said he, “that when my grandfather John Foley came
into Glanworth, he had a hat full of gold.”

“A strange measure they had for gold that time, Dan,” said I--“a hat. I
heard a cousin of my own make use of the very same words an hour ago.”

“When my great-grandfather came in to Ross,” said she, “he had a hat
full of gold.”

“It must mean,” said Dan, “as much gold as would fill a hat.” And so
it must. That is the meaning of it in the Irish language--Laan-hata,
d’ore--as much gold as would fill a hat. “A hat, full of gold” would
be “hata, laan d’ore.” The Irish tongue and the Irish language are not
the only things that suffer by the effort to turn everything Irish into

That nickname “Rossa” comes to me from Rossmore, not from Rosscarberry.
That great grandfather of Peggie Leary’s and mine was called “Donacha
mor a Rossa.” The word “outcanted” that his great-granddaughter Peggy
Leary used is very likely much the same as the word “evicted” that is
in use to-day.

When the Cromwellian plunderers got hold of the lands of our people,
they did not like that the plundered people would be settled down
anywhere near them. That is how the desire arose of having them sent
“to hell or Connacht.” Nor did the plunderers like that the plundered
people would hold any remembrance of what belonged to them of old, and
that is how it came to my notice that it is only in whispers my people
would carry the name “Rossa” with them. The people would call my father
“Donacha Russa”--leaving out altogether the name O’Donovan, and in
signing papers or writing letters, my father would not add the name
Russa, or Rossa.

I vowed to myself one day that if ever I got to be a man, I’d carry
the name Rossa with me. And to-day, in the city of New York, in the
face of the kind of people that govern that city, I find it as hard to
carry that name as ever my fathers found it, in the face of the English
governing Ireland.

Indeed it is not much amiss for me to say that it looks to me as
if it was the same English Sassenach spirit that was prominent and
predominant in the government of this city, and many other cities of
America to-day.

My great-grandfather Donacha Rossa was married to Sheela ni
Illean:--Julia O’Donovan-Island. They had six sons. Those six sons were
married into the following families: Dan’s wife, an O’Mahony Baan of
Shounlarach; John’s wife, a Callanan of East Carberry; Den’s wife, a
McCarthy-Meening of East Carberry; Conn’s wife, an O’Sullivan Bua’aig;
Jer’s wife (my grandmother), an O’Donovan-Baaid, and Flor’s wife, an
O’Driscoll--sister to Teige oge O’Driscoll of Derryclathagh.

Those six brothers had three sisters, one of whom married into the Lee
family of Clonakilty, one of them into the Barrett family of Caheragh,
and the other into the O’Sullivan-Stuocach family of the Common

My grandmother Maire-’n-Bhaaid had six sisters. One of them married
into the Good family of Macroom; one of them into the Hawkes family of
Bandon, one of them into the Hart family of Cahirmore, one of them into
the Nagle family of Fearnachountil, and the other two into some other
families between Bandon and Cork. It was through this O’Donovan-Baaid
connection that my grandfather got the relays of horses between Bandon
and Cork the time he had to make the run to the grand jury to save
himself from the White-boy indictment.

Then, my grandfather, at the mother’s side was Cornelius O’Driscoll
of Renascreena, and my grandmother was Anna ni-Laoghaire. My
grandfather had two brothers--Patrick, who was married to the sister
of Florry McCarthy of the Mall, and Denis who was married into the
O’Donovan-Dheeil family of Mauly-regan. There were some sisters there
also--one of them the mother of the O’Callaghans of the Mall, and the
other, the mother of the Noonans of Cononagh.

One of my mother’s sisters is Mrs. Bridget Murray, No. 11 Callowhill
Street, Philadelphia, and wanting some information for this chapter of
my “Recollections,” I wrote lately, asking her to answer some questions
that I laid before her. These are the questions and answers:

Q.--What was the maiden name of the mother of my grandfather, Conn

A.--Ellen White.

Q.--What was the maiden name of the mother of my grandmother, Annie

A.--Ellen MacKennedy.

Q.--What was the name of my aunt that died young?


Q.--What was her husband’s name?

A.--John O’Brien.

Q.--What was the name of the wife of my grand-uncle, Denis O’Driscoll?

A.--Mary O’Donovan-Dheeil.

Q.--Had my grandfather any sister but the one that was Paddy
Callaghan’s mother?

A.--Yes; Kate O’Driscoll, married to Denis Noonan.

Father James Noonan, the grandson of that grand-aunt of mine is now in
Providence, R. I. I had a strange family reunion with him one time. I
went to Washington, D. C., to attend the funeral of Col. Patrick J.
Downing. His body was taken to the Cathedral, and after the Requiem
Mass, Father Noonan came on the altar to say some kind words as to the
worth of the dead soldier. There I sat between the two; the priest was
the grandson of my grandfather’s sister, at my mother’s side; the dead
man was the grandson of my father’s sister. And that is how we scatter,
and how we die, and how we meet in the strange land--not knowing each

Another strange meeting at a funeral came to my notice here in New
York one time. Dr. Hamilton Williams, of Dungarvan, had me to stand
god-father for a child of his. The child died, and I went to the
funeral to Calvary cemetery. Dr. Williams was not long in America at
the time. It was the first death in his family, and the child was
buried in the plot belonging to its mother’s sister. The next plot to
the right hand side of it was one on which a tombstone was erected, on
which was engraven, “Sacred to the memory of Denis O’Donovan-Rossa, of
Ross Carberry, aged ninety years.” There is my godchild, belonging to
Waterford, lying side by side with my grand-uncle’s son, belonging to

I often thought, while reading the tombstones of Flatbush and Calvary,
what an interesting book of record and genealogy could be made from
them; and from the information that could be derived from the people
who own them. I often thought I would like to write such a book. I
would like to do it yet, but circumstances are against the possibility
of my doing so. How peacefully there, the “Fardown” rests side by side
with his up-the-country neighbor, and how quietly the Connaught man
slumbers side by side with the Leinster man. Neighborly, as in death,
so should we be in life.

I spoke of Father Noonan at Col. Dowling’s funeral; it is no harm to
let him be seen in my book, in this letter of his:

                                       ST. ALOYSIUS, Washington, D. C.,
                                                    September 29, 1886.

    MY DEAR FRIEND--Sister Stanislaus was my sister’s name in
    Religion. I received an account of her death from one of the
    nuns. While I naturally regret the death of my only sister,
    I am consoled that she died in carrying out the end of her
    vocation, viz: charity to the poor and suffering. All my
    relations are dying out rapidly, but we mourn--not like those
    who have no hope. I would have answered at once, but was away
    from Washington when your letter reached here.

        Yours most truly,

                                                    JAMES NOONAN, S. J.

If I traveled from New York to San Francisco now, and stayed a time in
every city on the way, I could find a family cousin or connection in
every one of those cities--scores of them in these two cities I name,
among people who do not even know me. The mother of the children of
Alderman Henry Hughes, of New York, was an O’Donovan-Maol; her mother
was an O’Donovan Rossa, the daughter of one of my grand-uncles. The
mother of Counsellor McIntyre’s children, of San Francisco, is an
O’Donovan-Ciuin; her father is Martin Ciuin, of Sawroo, the son of my
mother’s sister, Kate O’Driscoll.

I could go into any parish in the Province of Munster and find family
relations and connections in it. Even in England I found relations in
whatever city I entered. In London the member who gave me a ticket to
go into the House of Commons in May, 1895, was one of my Old country
cousins--Ned Barry, of Newmill, one of the members for Cork County.

Then, when I went up to Newcastle-on-Tyne, a man called on me who told
me he recollected seeing me at his father’s house, in Dunmanway, when
he was a child. He was a grandson of old Jerrie Donovan, of Nedineh,
whom I met in my early days--Jer-a-Bhaaid, who belonged to the family
of my grandmother, Mauria ’n Bhaaid. This New Castle Irishman was
half a Tipperary man. His mother, before she married his father, Tim
O’Donovan Baaid, was a Miss Doheny, the niece of Father Doheny, of
Tipperary, who was a parish priest in Dunmanway.

The day before I left Chatham prison I had a visit from a man who was
living outside the prison walls. He said I may want some money, and he
put into my hand eight or ten sovereigns. He was Bildee Barrett, of
Ross, the son of Ned Barrett, whose mother was an O’Donovan Rossa, the
sister of my grandfather.

In 1894, when I was in Ireland, a double cousin of mine wrote me this

                                             THE ARCADE, Ross Carberry,
                                                        June 5th, 1894.

    DEAR MR. O’DONOVAN--We regret very much not having the pleasure
    of seeing you in Skibbereen last evening, but we are glad to
    learn from James Donovan that you will visit Ross Carberry
    shortly, when we hope to give you a hearty welcome to your
    native town. If my father (Rick Donovan-Roe) lived, how
    delighted he would be to see you.

    My husband is also a cousin of yours--a grandson of old Garrett
    Barry. I remain, your fond cousin,

                                                         ELLEN COLLINS.

When I think of how many ways that girl is related to me it looks like
a labyrinthian puzzle to go through the relationship. I have to travel
through all the bohreens of the barony to get to the end of it. Her
father was Rick Roe; Rick Roe’s father was Paddy Roe; Paddy Roe’s wife
was Margaret O’Driscoll; Margaret O’Driscoll was my god-mother, and she
was the sister of my grandfather, Cornelius O’Driscoll. Then that Ellen
Collins’ mother, Rick Roe’s wife, was an O’Donovan-Island--a cousin of
that Ellen Collins, though she was her mother. Ellen Collins is also
related to her husband, as he is the grandson of Garrett Barry, for
Garrett Barry’s mother was an O’Donovan-Island, the sister of my great

That Ellen Collins has bigger cousins in New York than I am. The
Harringtons of Dunmanway are the biggest and the richest butchers in
the city. I was going up Second Avenue one summer evening last year
and I met Charles O’Brien, of Clare, at Forty seventh Street. He
keeps an undertaker’s store. Two or three men were sitting on chairs
outside the door. He brought out a chair, and invited me to sit down,
which I did, for of all the O’Briens in New York, I love to hear this
Charlie O’Brien speak of Ireland--he has such a pride in his name and
his family, holding his head as high as the richest man who walks the
earth. Among the neighbors I was introduced to, was a Mr. Harrington,
about seventy-five years of age. When he spoke, and while he spoke, his
tongue was sounding in my ears as if it was jingling on the hearthstone
of my childhood.

“Where in the world, Mr. Harrington,” said I to him at last, “were you
living when you were growing up a child?”

“I was living in Dunmanway,” said he.

“I have never met you before,” said I, “but your voice sounds to me as
if I heard it before; I must have known some people belonging to you.
What was your mother’s name?”

“My mother’s name,” said he, “was Donovan; she was a sister to Tom
Donovan-Roe of Ross.”

That Tom Donovan-Roe was the grandfather of my correspondent Ellen
Collins, and the brother-in-law of my grand-aunt and god-mother. The
sound of the voice of Mr. Harrington’s mother must have sounded in
my ears some of the days of my childhood. Mr. Harrington’s voice is
to-day--after his fifty odd years in America--as Irish as my own.

The old Garrett Barry, Ellen Collins speaks of, was the grandfather
of Edward Barry, the member of Parliament who took me into the House
of Commons last year, and was the rent-receiver on the Lord Carberry
estate when I was a boy.

I did not satisfy the desire of Ellen Collins-Sguabbera to see me in
Ross, when I was in Ireland; nor did I satisfy my own desire either,
of seeing the spots where I had the nests of the goldfinch, and the
green-linnet, and the grey-linnet, and the wren, and the robin, and
the tomtit, and the yellow-hammer, and the lady wagtail. I did not go
into my native town. I specially avoided going into it, because I could
not go into it, as I would wish to go. I knew I would meet many there
who were broken down in the world, and I could not meet them in the
manner I would like. I, too, like Terrie of Derry have had my dreams in
the foreign lands:--

    Still dreaming of home
      And the bright days to come,
    When the boys should all
      Dub me “Sir Terrie;”
    And flowing with cash
      I could cut a big dash,
    In the beautiful city of Derry.

But those dreams and many other dreams of mine have not been realized.

All this I am saying may be idle gossip, personal or family gossip,
yet it may lead to something that may affect every one who is not
ashamed of having an Irish father and mother, and of having every one
and everything belonging to him, Irish. To those who would be ashamed
of having it known who their father and mother and their family
connections were, I have nothing to say, and I heed little what they
say of me for having a little Irish family pride about me. My story is
the story of many a decent father and mother’s son, cast out upon the
world--the story, alas! of many a decent father and mother’s daughter

    “Through the far lands we roam,
      Through the wastes, wild and barren,
    We are strangers at home--
      We are exiles in Erin.”

When Cromwell ravaged Ireland; when the cry was to the Irish people
of Munster, Leinster and Ulster--“To hell, or to Connacht, with you!”
there were not enough of people left in those three provinces to till
the land. Then propositions were made to the plundered, exterminated
people, that some of them would return, and that others of them
would go back to their lands under an agreement of paying rent to an
English landlord, and some who even owned the land got a foothold
to remain as rent-gatherers for the Cromwellians. The Barrys owned
Rathabharrig--Castle Barry. The Frekes and the Aylmers and the Evanses
came in, and changed the name from Castle Barry to Castle Freke, and
the Barrys got a chance of living on their own lands, by becoming
rent-payers and rent collectors for the Invaders.

Old Garrett Barry was the rent-agent on the Carberry estate. It was
through his friendship and influence that my father was not crushed out
entirely when he cut down the trees in the kitchen garden, and sold
them to Mick Hurley.

I have said in a previous chapter that although our land was on the
Carberry estate, Lord Carberry was not the direct landlord who received
the rent. And here I will have to notice another trick or two of
those English marauding plunderers in Ireland, and notice the habits
of servility and slavery into which the writers of Irish manners and
customs have fallen. There is the custom of “fosterage” and there is
the custom of “sponsorship” between the plunderer and the plundered.

The plunderer knows that nothing kills the wrath of the Irishman so
much as trust in his honor. The Cromwellian landlord has an heir born
to him, and he goes to the tenant O’Donovan and tells him Lady Carberry
is in very delicate health, and would take it as an everlasting favor
if Mrs. O’Donovan would take the baby from her for a short time. Mrs.
O’Donovan has had a baby of her own about the same time that Lady
Carberry had her baby. Mrs. O’Donovan takes the lord’s baby, and brings
it up with her own. The two grow up as “foster brothers.” The lord
had heard that O’Donovan had been plotting to kill him for being in
possession of the lands of the O’Donovans. But now the lord sleeps
soundly at night, for he feels O’Donovan’s wrath is paralyzed by this
confidence in his honor that the lord has shown in entrusting to his
keeping the life of his son and heir. The young lord and the young
O’Donovan grow up to be men. They are foster-brothers, “dearer to each
other than full brothers,” as those Anglo-Irish story-writers say, who
have no conception of Irish manhood or Irish spirit, and who write as
if the Irishman and his wife felt it an honor to suckle the Sassenach
robber’s child. No Irishman of the old stock feels such a thing as that
an honor to his house, though the conditions of slavery may compel him
to suffer it. That great-grandfather of mine that I have spoken of had
six sons. I have named the six families into which they married. The
mother of one of these families had one time nursed the young landlord
of their land, and it was held to be a stain upon the name of a Rossa
to make a matrimonial connection with any one who had an English
landlord for a foster-brother.

How is it that you never read of the foster-brother’s coming into
existence by his being the Irish boy who got from the English mother
the suck that did not naturally belong to him. It is--that it is the
Irishman who is in the condition of slavery, and that the English breed
in Ireland would consider themselves degraded and disgraced at nursing
an Irishman.

The second trick of the two tricks I have spoken of is the trick of
sponsorship. The lands of the Maguires are confiscated, and are made
over to an English surveyor who gets the title of Lord Leitrim. Young
Andy Maguire has the name of being a Rapparee; he is out on the hills
at night. Leitrim is afraid of him, and can’t sleep the nights well.
Mrs. Maguire has given birth to a daughter, and the lord asks that he
may be allowed the honor of standing god-father for the child. Then,
he makes the child a present of some of the old Maguire lands that lie
around the town of Tempo.

This is making a little restitution to the Maguires, and it appeases
their wrath a little. Andrew Maguire of Tempo, living at No. 242 East
14th Street, is one of the most decent Irishman living in New York
City, to day. He will not say I am far astray in what I an telling
you. I said Lord Carberry was not our landlord direct in Ross. No,
the mother of Dr. Daniel Donovan was our landlord; it was for her
Garrett Barry used to collect the rent, and the story I brought from
childhood with me about how she became landlord is that Lord Carberry
stood sponsor for one of the O’Donovan-Island children, and made it a
birthday present of the town and townland of Ross. That’s the childhood
story that got into my head. It is, perhaps, possible to reconcile it
in some shape with the following book story that I read in “Sketches in
Carberry, by Dr. Daniel Donovan, Jr., published by McGlashin & Gill,
Dublin, 1876.”

“In 1642 MacCarthy, of Benduff, captured the town of Ross, and laid
siege to Rathbarry Castle (the ancient seat of the Barrys in Carberry),
now Castle Freke.… Ross was garrisoned in the time of James II. by
the Irish forces under General McCarthy, and was reconnoitered by a
detachment of William III.’s army.”

“Large military barracks were formerly erected at Ross in close
proximity to the site of St. Fachtna’s simonastery. These barracks,
where so many warlike garrisons had been stationed from time to time
during the stirring events of the last two centuries and which changed
occupants as often as the fortunes of war veered from one side to the
other, are now in a semi-ruinous condition. Here lived formerly, after
the military had evacuated the place, a branch of the O’Donovan family
(the Island branch), to which the town of Ross Carberry belonged,
under a lease, from the end of the 18th century, up to within the last
ten years; and here also was born in December, 1807, Dr. Donovan,
Senior, of Skibbereen.” My childhood history is, that Lord Carberry
stood god-father for that Dr. Donovan’s mother and made her a present
of the town and townlands of Ross, and it is very likely there was
a compromise otherwise of some kind, wherein my people came in for
shelter, for, whereas they were hunted from place to place, since
Rossmore was confiscated on them, the six sons of my great-grandfather
now came into possession of about half the town and townland of Ross.
And they must have been respected people, too, because those six
brothers got six women to marry them who belonged to six of the best
families in the barony. That is one thing that stood to me in my battle
through life--my family record. I never was rich; I never will be rich;
but I got some of the best and handsomest girls in the country to marry
me--simply on account of myself and of my name.

One little story more will end this genealogy business of mine.

When I was in Cork city, in June, 1894, I was staying at the Victoria
Hotel. Crowds of people were calling to see me. Councilor Dick Cronin
spoke to me on a Monday morning and said: “Rossa, I have to take
you away from these people, or they will talk you to death, and you
won’t be able to give your lecture to-morrow night. Here, I have a
carriage at the door, and we’ll drive down to Fort Camden.” I went
with him. Passing by Ringaskiddy I told him I had some cousins living
around there, and I’d like he would inquire for them. “Ask the oldest
inhabitant,” said I, “where is a Miss Nagle who taught school here
forty or fifty years ago.” He made the inquiry, and we found her living
under the name of Mrs. Murphy, the mother of the present schoolmaster.
I made myself known to her. I was her mother’s sister’s grandson. I
asked her if there was any one around living belonging to another
sister of her mother, that was married near Cork to a man named Hawkes.
She said there was a grandson of hers, named McDonald, who kept
chinaware stores, on the Coal Quay, Cork. I went to McDonnell next day.
He was at his home in Sunday’s Well. I did not go further to see him.
His bookkeeper gave me this business card. “John McDonnell (late T.
& P. McDonnell), earthenware, china and glass merchants, Nos. 58 and
59 Cornmarket Street, Cork. Established over 50 years. (127 Sunday’s

Mr. James Scanlan, the wholesale meat-merchant of No. 614 West 40th
Street New York, is reading these “Recollections.” His grandfather was
one of that O’Donovan-Baaid family to whom my grandmother belonged.
This is his letter:

                  ABATTOIR, Nos. 614 to 619 West 40th Street, New York.

    DEAR O’DONOVAN ROSSA--It is forty years since I left Dunmanway,
    and did not bring with me much news about our family relations.

    When I was a boy, our friends would come to town on market-day,
    and have their talk in the Irish language. It was a pleasure
    to hear them in their own soft tongue--the women with the long
    cloak and the hood thrown gracefully back. The times and the
    people all gone now, and none to take their place!

    My mother’s name was Nora Donovan. She had one sister and three
    brothers. All came to the United States. One uncle lives.
    Their father was Pat Donovan of Bauhagh, four miles above
    Dunmanway. He was a Donovan-Baaid. He married a Kingston from
    near Drimoleague. Both died in Dunmanway about 1846. My mother
    married James Scanlan. He taught school in the town. The Teady
    Donovan you spoke about is second cousin to my mother. With my
    best regards for you and family, I am, yours truly,

                                                          JAS. SCANLAN.

And James Donovan of 36th Street and Second Avenue, another cousin of
mine, writes me this letter.

    DEAR ROSSA--The reading of your genealogical sketches has
    brought many circumstances connected with the history of your
    family to my mother’s recollection.

    Donough Mor (your and her great-grandfather) died at Milleen,
    northeast of Rosscarberry, where he lived with his eldest son
    Denis. Donough and his wife, Jillen or Julia Island, were born
    the same year (according to the tradition of the family), lived
    to be over a hundred years old, and were buried the same week,
    dying in or about the year 1793. When the funeral of Donough
    Mor was departing from the house, his wife went to the door and
    exclaimed in Irish, “Donough, you led a good life and had a
    happy death. You have a good day and a good funeral. Good-bye
    for a short time; I will soon be with you.” Before seven days
    had elapsed her remains were laid beside those of her husband
    near the old Abbey.

    A few years after, his son Denis was outcanted of the large
    farm he cultivated, which embraced the ploughland of Milleen
    and part of Froe. He moved to Ross, where he erected the most
    commodious house then in that town. Here he engaged in the
    grocery and liquor business, with much success for many years.
    In his house the monthly conference dinners of the priests of
    the diocese were held up to the time of his death, in 1823.

    All the brothers combined on the manufacture of linen with
    farming. Five of the brothers, Daniel, Jeremiah, Cornelius,
    John and Florence, had adjoining farms further north.

    During the time of the free quarters they were much harassed by
    the frequent raids of the English soldiers who plundered and
    burned at will. A party visited Daniel’s house while he was
    absent at Cork on business. They threatened his wife, (Breeda
    O’Mahony-Bawn), with dire vengeance unless she revealed where
    the money was hidden of which the Donovans were reported to be
    possessed. Finding their threats unavailing against the heroic
    woman, they set fire to the dwelling houses, loom houses, and
    barns, leaving ruin and desolation where industry and plenty
    reigned. When Daniel returned and heard the story from his wife
    he fell on his knees, and with uplifted hands, he cried, “I
    thank God, alanna, that you and the children are left to me.”
    This occurred in the summer of 1797. The state of terrorism
    increased to such an extent, and the plundering of the soldiery
    became so high-handed, that the brothers, who were marked as
    special prey by the marauders, to ensure the safety of their
    wives and children, removed to Ross. The money possessed in
    gold was sewed into the clothes of the women and children.
    After remaining a short time in Denis’s house, the brothers
    resumed the linen business in houses which they built for the
    purpose. They were the largest employers of labor in the town
    of Ross Carberry, where linen-weaving was in a flourishing
    condition. Your grandfather had between twenty and thirty looms
    at work for him; he had the reputation of being an upright
    and honest business man, and in disposition generous, but

    It was a noted coincidence that your great-grandmother, Jillen
    Island, had six sons, Denis, Jer., Dan, Flor., Patrick and
    Conn, and her brother, Dan Island, of Gurrane, had six sons
    Jer., Dan, Rick, Flor., Patrick and Conn. Dan, the father of
    Jer-Dan was a great genealogist, and knew the history of all
    the Donovans. His sister, Aunt Nell, (Mrs. Malony of Gurrane)
    whom I remember very well as a straight, pleasant featured
    woman, was similarly gifted. Donal was the name of the father
    of your great-grandfather Donacha More a Rossa. That Donal had
    a brother Donough who was an officer in King James’ Army; of
    him nothing was known after the Williamite wars. Yours truly,

                                                      JAMES T. DONOVAN.

That ends my childhood story days. The next chapter will get me into
the movement for the Repeal of the Union between England and Ireland.


“Repeal of the Union.”

I did not know what “Repeal of the Union” was when I heard all the
grown-up people around me shouting out “Repeal! Repeal!” It is no harm
now to let my young readers know what Repeal meant when I was a boy in

Before I was a boy--before you or I were in the world at all--Ireland
had a Parliament of her own. Ireland’s representatives met in the
Parliament House in College Green, Dublin. Or, more correctly speaking,
the English breed of people living in Ireland held Parliament in
College Green. The real old Irish people, who remained true to the old
cause and the old faith, had no voice in that Parliament; they had not
even a voice in electing a member to it. Things were so arranged by the
English that only an Englishman, or an Irishman who became a turn-coat,
and changed his nature and his religion, could have anything to say or
do with that Parliament. Yet, when the Englishmen, the Sassenachs and
the Protestants, who came into possession of Ireland, came to find out
that England would rob them of their rights, too, as well as she would
rob the Catholics, they kicked against the robbery, and in the year
1782 they made a show of resistance, and got England to take her hands
off them for awhile. But up to the year 1800 England had intrigued
and bribed so much, that she bought over a majority of the members,
and they voted that our Irish Parliament would be abolished; that they
would not meet in Dublin any more, but that they would have a united
parliament for Great Britain and Ireland in London. The act by which
that was done was called the Act of Union, and it was to repeal that
act that the movement for the “Repeal of the Union,” was started.

Daniel O’Connell, of Kerry, was the head man of that movement. He was
a great man at moving the Irish people, and carrying them with him.
Many of the people thought he meant to fight, too, in the long run,
for at some of his monster meetings, speaking to tens of thousands of
people, he’d cry out “Hereditary bondsmen! Know ye not! Who would be
free, themselves must strike the blow.” But he never seriously meant
fight. If he did he would, in a quiet way, or in some way, have made
some preparation for it. Those same remarks hold good as regards the
later Irish movement of Charles S. Parnell. A great many people said he
meant to fight when he’d cry out that he’d “never take off his coat to
the work he was at, if there was not some other work behind it.” But
he never seriously meant fight either. If he did, he would, in a quiet
way, or in some way, have made some preparation for it.

But England became alarmed at O’Connell’s movement, and she put him and
hundreds of men in prison in connection with it, just as she became
alarmed at Parnell’s movement in the heyday of its vigor, and put him
and hundreds of men to prison in connection with it. England gives
great allowance to Irishmen in showing themselves great and patriotic
in constitutional and parliamentary agitation, but when it goes a
little too far beyond her liking, she is very quick at stopping it.

I recollect when O’Connell was put to prison, and when he was released
from prison. I recollect the night the bonfires were blazing on the
hills throughout the country in celebration of the release of the
prisoners, and the song that was afterward sung about it, a verse of
which is this:

    “The year ’44, on the 30th of May,
    Our brave liberator, these words he did say:
    ‘The time is but short that I have for to stay,
      When the locks of my prison shall open.
    You’ll find me as true--that the laws I’ll obey,
    And I’ll always be so, till I’m laid in the clay.
    For Peace is the thing that will carry the sway,
      And bring parliament back to old Erin.’”

“He’s fined and confined,” said one of the ushers of Beamish’s school,
in my hearing, to his scholars, as I was playing ball outside the
schoolhouse gate, the evening the news of Dan O’Connell’s being found
“guilty” came into Ross. And these scholars seemed to receive the news
with glee. They belonged to the English crowd in Ireland. Four or five
of them were boys named Hickson, sons of one of the Lansdowne agents
in Kerry. Twenty years after, I met a few of them at the races of Inch
Strand, west of Castlemaine.

And what a lively time there was in Ireland those days of the
O’Connell movement! And how delightfully the birds used to sing! There
were more birds and more people there then than there are now. Nine
millions in 1845; four and a half millions in 1895. And those English
savages rejoice over the manner in which they destroy us. They thank
God we are gone, “gone with a vengeance,” they say. What a pity we
haven’t the spirit to return the vengeance. But we are taught to do
good to those that hate us, to bless those that curse us, and to pray
for those who persecute and calumniate us. I can’t do it; I won’t try
to do it; I won’t be making a hypocrite of myself in the eyes of the
Lord; I could sooner bring myself to pray for the devil first.

I have written that neither O’Connell nor Parnell meant fight, because
neither of them made any preparation for fight. While all of us talk
much of fight, and glorify in song and story those who fought and fell,
is it possible that something degenerate has grown into us, that always
keeps us from coming to the point when the crisis is at hand! There
is no doubt that we fight bravely the battles of all the nations of
the earth. But then, we are _made_ to do it. We join their armies, and
we are shot down if we don’t do it. There is no power, no discipline,
to compel us to fight for Ireland, and it is surprising the facility
with which the leaders of Irish physical-force organizations of the
present day can lead their forces into the fields of _moral_ force,
to obtain for their country a freedom that they swore they were to
fight for. ’Tis desertion of that kind that made Parnellism; ’tis base
desertion of that kind that leaves heroic Irishmen dead and dying in
the dungeons of England to-day. I’m getting vexed. I’ll stop.

Why do I make these remarks? I don’t know. I have been talking of
O’Connell and I have been thinking of John O’Donovan, the great Irish
scholar, and what he said to me one time about O’Connell. In a letter
he wrote to me, about the year 1856, he says: “There were no two men
of the age who despised the Irish name and the Irish character more
than did Daniel O’Connell, and the late Dr. Doyle, Bishop of Kildare
and Leighlin. Dr. Miley, in whose hands O’Connell died, told me this at
this table, and I firmly believe it.”

John O’Donovan was intimately acquainted with Father Meehan, the author
of the History of the Confederation of Kilkenny and other historical
works. I met Father Meehan at John O’Donovan’s house one night in 1859.
I was after being released from Cork jail, and we had some talk at
table about the Phœnix movement. John O’Donovan thought I was somewhat
over-sanguine. “The bishops won’t let the people fight,” said he. Dr.
Meehan never said a word. I’ll now go back to my story.

I told you I shook hands with O’Connell when he was coming from the
great meeting in Skibbereen, in the year 1843. I remember the morning
the Ross men were going to that meeting. Some of them had white wands.
I see Dan Hart having one of those wands, regulating the men into
line of march. Those wandmen were the peace-police of the procession.
Paddy Donovan-Rossa was prominent in command, giving out new Repeal
buttons. Some years after, he was in New York with his wife and his six
sons--all dead now: all belonging to him dead now, I may say. Meeting
him here in the year 1863, I said to him--“Uncle Paddy, I remember you,
the time you had all the Repeal buttons in Ross to free Ireland.”
I was sorry for saying it, for the tears ran down his cheeks. The
movement I myself was connected with ended no better, and we are in
no position to say anything hurtful to O’Connellites. We all turned
out to be O’Connellites, or Parnellites, which is much the same; all
putting our trust in England to free Ireland for us--“without striking
a blow.” No, there were not ten men of the whole Fenian movement, and
the whole I. R. B. movement in America, that did not turn in to the
Parnell movement. That is how England feels strong to-day, and that is
how she feels she can treat with contempt all the resolutions passed
by Irishmen in Ireland and America, about the release of the Irish
political prisoners that she holds in her English prisons. No society
of Irishmen exists now that she is afraid of. She has everything in her
own hands. And, until England is made afraid, she will do nothing for
Ireland, or give nothing to Irishmen.

The Repeal movement, the Father Mathew movement, the Young Ireland
movement, and the English-made famine movement, ran into one another,
from the year 1840 to the year 1848. I was in the whole of them--not
much as a man, but a great deal as a little boy. I remember on Sundays,
how I’d sit for hours in the workshop of Mick Hurley, the carpenter,
at the lower side of the Pound Square, listening to Patrick (Daniel)
Keohane reading the _Nation_ newspaper for the men who were members of
the Club. He was the best scholar in our school; he was in the first
class, and he was learning navigation. And he _did_ go to sea after
that, and sailed his own ship for years. When last I saw him he kept
shop, or kept store, as we here call it, in that part of the town where
the Courceys and Crokers and Moloneys lived. And he is there yet. Won’t
he be surprised, if he reads what I am writing, to know that he had a
hand in making a “bad boy” of me, listening to him reading the _Nation_
newspaper fifty odd years ago! It is very possible it was through his
reading I first heard of the death of Thomas Davis. It was in 1845
Thomas Davis died, and Patrick Keohane and I were in Ross then. It was
the first of the years that are called the “famine” years; years that
will require from me the whole of the next chapter.



Coming on the harvest time of the year 1845, the crops looked splendid.
But one fine morning in July there was a cry around that some blight
had struck the potato stalks. The leaves had been blighted, and from
being green, parts of them were turned black and brown, and when these
parts were felt between the fingers they’d crumble into ashes. The
air was laden with a sickly odor of decay, as if the hand of Death
had stricken the potato field, and that everything growing in it was
rotting. This is the recollection that remains in my mind of what I
felt in our marsh field that morning, when I went with my father and
mother to see it.

The stalks withered away day by day. Yet the potatoes had grown to a
fairly large size. But the seed of decay and death had been planted in
them too. They were dug and put into a pit in the field. By and by an
alarming rumor ran through the country that the potatoes were rotting
in the pits. Our pit was opened, and there, sure enough, were some of
the biggest of the potatoes half rotten. The ones that were not touched
with the rot were separated from the rotting ones, and were carted into
the “chamber” house, back of our dwelling house. That chamber house
had been specially prepared for them, the walls of it being padded
with straw, but it was soon found that the potatoes were rotting in the
chamber too. Then all hands were set to work to make another picking;
the potatoes that were rotting were thrown into the back yard, and
those that were whole and appeared sound were taken up into the loft
over our kitchen. The loft had been specially propped to bear the extra
weight. But the potatoes rotted in the loft also, and before many weeks
the blight had eaten up the supply that was to last the family for the
whole year.

Then one of our fields had a crop of wheat, and when that wheat was
reaped and stacked, the landlord put “keepers” on it, and on all that
we had, and these keepers remained in the house till the wheat was
threshed and bagged, and taken to the mill. I well remember one of the
keepers (Mickeleen O’Brien) going with my mother to Lloyd’s mill, just
across the road from the marsh field, and from the mill to the agent,
who was in town at Cain Mahony’s that day, to receive rents.

When my mother came home she came without any money. The rent was £18 a
year. The wheat was thirty shillings a bag; there were twelve bags and
a few stone, that came in all to £18 5s., and she gave all to the agent.

I don’t know how my father felt; I don’t know how my mother felt; I
don’t know how I felt. There were four children of us there. The potato
crop was gone; the wheat crop was gone. How am I to tell the rest of my

Volume upon volume has been written and printed about those “bad times”
of ’45, ’46 and ’47. I could write a volume myself on them, but as it
is not that work I am at, I have only to write down those impressions
made on my mind by the incidents I witnessed and experienced--incidents
and experiences that no doubt have done much to fortify me and keep me
straight in the rugged life that I have traveled since.

I told how our potato crop went to rot in 1845. Some Irishmen say that
that was a “visitation of Providence.” I won’t call it any such thing.
I don’t want to charge the Creator of the Irish people with any such

I told how our wheat crop in 1845 went lost to us also. That, no doubt,
was a visitation of English landlordism--as great a curse to Ireland as
if it was the arch-fiend himself had the government of the country.

During those three years in Ireland, ’45, ’46 and ’47, the potato crops
failed, but the other crops grew well, and, as in the case of my people
in ’45, the landlords came in on the people everywhere and seized the
grain crops for the rent--not caring much what became of those whose
labor and sweat produced those crops. The people died of starvation, by
thousands. The English press and the English people rejoiced that the
Irish were at last conquered; that God at last was fighting strongly at
the side of the English.

Coroners’ juries would hold inquests on Irish people who were found
dead in the ditches, and would return verdicts of “murder” against
the English government, but England cared nothing for that; her work
was going on splendidly; she wanted the Irish race cleared out of
Ireland--cleared out entirely, and now something was doing for her what
her guns and bayonets had failed to do. She gave thanks to God that it
was so; that the Irish were gone--“gone with a vengeance”--“that it was
going to be as hard to find a real Irish man in Ireland as to find a
red Indian in New York,”--“that Ireland was nothing but a rat in the
path of an elephant, and that the elephant had nothing to do but to
squelch the rat.”

What wonder is it if the leading Irishman to day, in New York or
anywhere else, would do all that he could do to make a return of that
“vengeance” to England! We adopt the English expression and call those
years the “famine years”; but there was no famine in the land. There is
no famine in any land that produces as much food as will support the
people of that land--if the food is left with them. But the English
took the food away to England, and let the people starve.

With their characteristic duplicity, they cried out that there was a
famine in Ireland, and they appealed to the nations of the earth to
help the starving people. Ships laden with food were sent from America,
from Russia and from other nations, and while these ships were going
into the harbors of Ireland, English ships laden with Irish corn and
cattle and eggs and butter were leaving the harbors, bound for England.
Ireland those three years of ’45, ’46 and ’47, produced as much food as
was sufficient to support three times the population of Ireland. What I
say is historical truth, recorded in the statistics of the times. It is
English history in Ireland _all_ the time during England’s occupation
of the country.

In the Year 1846, the blight struck the potato crop in the month of
June. The stalks withered away before the potatoes had grown to any
size at all. There was no potato crop. In fact many of the fields had
remained untilled, and grew nothing but weeds. It was the same way in
the year 1847. The weeds had full possession of the soil, and drew from
it all the nourishment it could yield. They blossomed beautifully.
Though sad, it was a beautiful picture to look at--the land garlanded
in death. Standing on one of the hills of our old-chapel field one day,
and looking across the bay, at the hillside of Brigatia, the whole of
that hillside--a mile long and a half a mile broad was a picture of

The priseach-bhuidhe weed had grown strong, and with its yellow
blossoms rustled by the gentle breeze, glistening in the sun, it made
a picture in my mind that often stands before me--a picture of Death’s
victory, with all Death’s agents decorating the fields with their
baleful laurels.

Any picture of baleful beauty like it in America? Yes, there is, and I
have seen it; seen it in the fields of Irish patriotism.

Gladstone the English governor of Ireland is after putting thousands
of Irishmen into his prisons; his Irish governors are killed by the
Irish; his castles in London are leveled by the Irish; his policy makes
him play hypocrite, and he talks of “Home rule for Ireland.” The Irish
in America dance with delight. They get up a monster meeting in one
of the finest halls of the chief city of the nation, and they get the
governor of the State to preside at the meeting. The representatives of
all the Irish societies, and of all the Irish Counties and Provinces
are there, arrayed in their finest and best; the large platform is
sparkling with diamonds; every man, every woman is a sparkling gem. The
governor of the State of New York tells the world, represented there,
that the thanks of the whole Irish race is there transmitted to Mr.
Parnell and to Mr. Gladstone, for the freedom of Ireland. Handkerchiefs
and hats are waved, and twirled in every circle that hands can motion;
diamonds and rubies sparkle and dance with the electric lights of the
hall; the O’Donnells of Donegal, the O’Neills of Tyrone, the MacMahons
of Monaghan, the McGuires of Fermanagh, the O’Briens of Arra, the
O’Sullivans of Dunkerron, the McCarthys of the Castles, the O’Donoghues
of the Glens, and all the other Clans are wild with delight.

Yes, that was the other field of priseachh-bhuidhe I saw in America,
that equalled in dazzling splendor the field I saw in Ireland, but it
was one that was just as fruitless of food for Ireland’s freedom, as
the Brigaysha field was fruitless of food for Ireland’s people. There
was no home rule for Ireland. Gladstone, or any other Englishman, may
humbug Irishmen to their hearts’ content, but he is not going to give
them Irish freedom until they pay for it the price of freedom. They
are able to pay that price, and they are able to get it in spite of

It is not to vex Irishmen that I talk this way; I don’t want to vex
them. My faith is strong that they are able to free Ireland, but I
want to get them out of the priseachh-bhuidhe way of freeing it. But
I cannot blame myself for being vexed; nor should you blame me much
either. Look at this proclamation that was issued against our people
from Dublin Castle by the English invaders, one time:


                   By the Lord Justices and Council:

    “We do hereby make known to all men, as well good subjects as
    all others, that whoever he or they be that shall, betwixt this
    and the five-and-twentieth day of March next, kill and bring,
    or caused to be killed and brought to us, the Lord Justices,
    or other Chief-Governor or Governors, for the time being, the
    head of Sir Phelim O’Neill, or of Conn Magennis, or of Rory
    Maguire, or of Philip MacHugh MacShane O’Reilly, or of Collo
    MacBrien MacMahon, he or they shall have by way of reward, for
    every one of the said last persons, so by him to be killed, and
    his or their head or heads brought to us as followeth, viz: For
    the head of Sir Phelim O’Neill, one thousand pounds; for the
    head of the said Sir Rory Maguire, six hundred pounds; for the
    head of the said Philip MacHugh MacShane O’Reilly, six hundred
    pounds; for the head of the said Collo MacBrien MacMahon, six
    hundred pounds.”

        Dublin Castle, Feb. 8, 1641.

                                                        JOHN ROTHERHAM,
                                                        F. TEMPLE,
                                                        CHAS. COOTE.

    “God save the King.”

Then, forty pounds a head were offered for the heads of some two
hundred other chieftains, embracing men of nearly all the Milesian
families of Ireland.

What wonder is it, if I look vexed occasionally when I meet with
O’Farrells, and O’Briens, and O’Flahertys, and O’Gradys, and O’Mahonys,
and O’Callaghans, and O’Byrnes, and O’Neills, and O’Reillys, and
O’Keefes, O’Kanes and O’Connors, O’Crimmins, O’Hallarans, O’Flynns,
O’Dwyers and O’Donnells, and O’Donovans and O’Kellys, O’Learys,
O’Sheas, O’Rourkes, O’Murphys, Maguires, and McCarthys, and MacMahons
and MacLaughlins, and other men of Irish stock, who will talk of having
“honorable warfare” with England, for the freedom of Ireland. It is
not from nature they speak so. It cannot be. There is nothing in their
nature different from mine. I have heard men making excuses for me for
being so mad against the English--saying it is on account of the harsh
treatment I received from the English while I was in English prisons.
That kind of talk is all trash of talk. What I am now, I _was_, before
I ever saw the inside of an English prison. I am so from nature.

Before I was ever able to read a book, I heard stories of Irish
women ripped open by English bayonets, and of Irish infants taken
on the points of English bayonets and dashed against the walls;
and I heard father and mother and neighbors rejoicing--“buidhechas
le Dia!”--whenever they heard of an English landlord being shot in
Tipperary or any other part of Ireland.

And as I grew up, and read books, didn’t I see and hear big men praying
curses upon England and upon England’s land-robbers in Ireland. Didn’t
John Mitchel say, that the mistake of it was, that _more_ landlords
were not shot! and didn’t he say that if he could grasp the fires of
hell, he would seize them, and hurl them into the face of his country’s
enemy! Didn’t Thomas Davis pray: “May God wither up their hearts;
may their blood cease to flow; may they walk in living death; they,
who poisoned Owen Roe!” Didn’t Thomas Moore tell us to flesh “every
sword to the hilt” into their bodies! Didn’t J. J. Callanan pray “May
the hearthstone of hell be their best bed forever!” Didn’t Daniel
McCarthy-Sowney pray: “Go raibh gadhair-fhiadh Ifrion a rith a ndiadh
’n anam air Innse shocuir, gan toortog!” and “go gcuireadth Dia cioth
sparabli a gcoin naibh a n-anam!”

No, no! Irishmen don’t pray for the English enemy in Ireland. If
prayers would drive them to hell, or anywhere else, outside of
Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster, some of them would stay
praying till their knees were tanned.

In the “bad times” of ’46 and ’47, the Donovan-Buidhe family of
Derriduv were friends of my family. There were four brothers of them
on the land of Derriduv, some two miles from the town of Ross. Donal
Buidhe came to our house one day. His wife and six children were
outside the door. They had with them a donkey that was the pet of the
eldest boy. They had been evicted that morning, and had nowhere to go
for shelter. There was a “chamber” back of our house, and back of the
chamber was another house called the “linney.” My father told Donal to
clear out the linney, and take the whole family into it. Some days
after, it may be a few weeks after, I heard my father and my mother
whispering, and looking inquiringly at each other; the donkey was the
subject of their conversation. The donkey had disappeared: where was
the donkey? The last seen of him was in the backyard, there was no
way for him to pass from the backyard into the street but through our
kitchen, and he had not passed through it.

That donkey had been killed and eaten by Donal Buidhe and his family.
That was the decision I read on the faces of my father and mother. They
did not think I was taking any notice of what they were whispering
about. “Skibbereen! where they ate the donkeys!” is an expressive kind
of slur cast at the people of that locality. But, ’tis no slur.

You have read, and I have read in history, how people besieged in
fortresses have eaten horses, and donkeys, and cats, and dogs, and
rats, and mice; and how people wrecked on sea, have cast lots for food,
and have eaten each other. Reading these stories when I was a boy, I
could not get my mind to conceive how any human being could do such
things, but I was not long in English prisons when I found my nature
changed--when I found that I myself could eat rats and mice, if they
came across me. And, perhaps that prison life of mine changed other
attributes of my Irish nature too.

The year ’47 was one of the years of “the Board of works” in Ireland.
Any man in possession of land--any farmer could get none of the
relief that the Poor Law allowed under the name of “out-door relief.”
To qualify himself for that relief, he should give up the land to
his landlord. But, under the Board of works law, a farmer could get
employment on the public works. My father was so employed. He had
charge of a gang of men making a new road through Rowry Glen. He took
sick in March, and Florry Donovan, the overseer of the work, put
me in charge of his gang, while he was sick. I was on the road the
twenty-fifth of March, ’47, when the overseer came to me about noontime
and told me I was wanted at home. I went home, and found my father



This chapter that I have to write now is a very hard chapter to write.
I have to say something that will hurt my pride and will make my
friends think the less of me. But I’ll say it all the same, because the
very thing that hurts my pride and humbles me in my own estimation, may
be the very thing that has strengthened me to fight Ireland’s battle
against the common enemy as I have fought it. If the operation of
English rule in Ireland abases the nature of the Irishman--and it does
abase it--the Irishman ought to fight the harder and fight the longer,
and fight every way and every time, and fight all the time to destroy
that rule. So, stand I to-day in that spirit. Not alone in spirit but
in deed--if I could do any deed--but action is out of the question in a
situation where the parade and show and color of patriotism is regarded
as patriotism itself.

I said my father died in March, 1847. I was then fifteen years of age.
I said, that the year before he died, the potato crop failed entirely,
and the landlord seized the grain crop for the rent. About that time,
I heard a conversation between my father and mother that made a very
indelible impression upon my mind. I have often thought, that if things
are dark around you, and that you want a friend to assist you out of
the darkness, it is not good policy at all to cry out to him that you
are stricken totally blind, that you are so helpless for yourself
that there is never any hope of recovery from that helplessness. My
mother was after returning from a visit she made to a sister of my
father’s, who lived some twelve miles away, and who was pretty well
off in the world. The object of the visit was for assistance over our
difficulties. My aunt had a son-in-law, a very wise man; she sent for
him; he came to the house, and there was a family consultation on
the matter. My mother was asked to candidly tell the full situation
of affairs, and to tell how much money would get us over all the
difficulties, and put us on our legs again. She did tell. Then there
was a consultation, aside from my mother--the pith of which my mother
heard, and which was this: the son-in-law said that we were so far in
debt, and the children so young and helpless, that anything given us,
or spent on us to get us over the present difficulty would only be
lost, lost forever; and that then we would not be over the difficulty.

All along the fifty years of my life since that year of 1847, I have
often wanted help, and often got it. I get it to-day, and maybe want
it to-day; get it from people who want no return for it; but that
does not remove the impression made on my mind, that when you are in
difficulties it is not good policy at all to make such a poor mouth as
will show any one inclined to help you that the help given you will
only be lost on you.

One thing my father said to me one time I will tell here for the
benefit of the little children who live in the house where this book
will be read. It is this: I stayed away from school one day; I went
mootching. My mother was coming from Jude Shanahan’s of Dooneen, and
she found me playing marbles at the courthouse cross. She caught
hold of me by the collar, and she did not let go the hold until she
brought me in home. I was crying of course; roaring and bawling at the
thrashing I was to get from my father. “Stop your crying,” said he,
“stop your crying; I am not going to beat you; but, remember what I say
to you; when I am dead and rotten in my grave, it is then you will be
sorry that you did not attend to your schooling.” It was true for him.

When my father died, the hill field had been planted for a potato crop,
and the strand field had been planted for wheat.

After he died, some of the creditors looked for their money, and
there was no money there. Bill Ned obtained a decree against us, and
executed the decree; and I saw everything that was in the house taken
into the street and canted. That must be about the month of May, 1847.
One Sunday after that--a fine sunny day, I was out in the Abbey field
playing with the boys; about six o’clock I came home to my dinner;
there was no dinner for me, and my mother began to cry. Uncle Mickey
did not come to town yesterday. He used to come to the house every
Saturday with a load of turf, and a bag of meal or flour straddled on
top of the turf. He did not come yesterday, and there was nothing in
the house for dinner.

Some years ago, in Troy, New York, I was a guest at the hotel of Tom
Curley of Ballinasloe. Talking of “the bad times” in Ireland, he told
me of his own recollection of them in Galway, and asked me if I ever
felt the hunger. I told him I did not, but that I felt something that
was worse than the hunger; that I felt it still; and that was--the
degradation into which want and hunger will reduce human nature. I told
him of that Sunday evening in Ross when I went home to my dinner, and
my mother had no dinner for me; I told him I had one penny-piece in
my pocket; I told him how I went out and bought for it a penny bun,
and how I stole to the back of the house and thievishly ate that penny
bun without sharing it with my mother and my sister and my brothers.
I am proud of my life, one way or another; but that penny bun is a
thorn in my side; a thorn in the pride of my life; it was only four
ounces of bread--for bread was fourpence (eight cents) a pound at the
time--but if ever I feel any pride in myself, that little loaf comes
before me to humble me; it also comes before me to strengthen me in the
determination to destroy that tyranny that reduces my people to poverty
and degradation, and makes them what is not natural for them to be. I
know it is not in my nature to be niggardly and selfish. I know that if
I have money above my wants, I find more happiness and satisfaction in
giving it to friends who want it than in keeping it. But that penny-bun
affair clashes altogether against my own measurement of myself, and
stands before me like a ghost whenever I would think of raising myself
in my own estimation.

I suppose it was the general terror and alarm of starvation that was
around me at the time that paralyzed my nature, and made me do what I
am now ashamed to say I did.

Friday was the day on which my father died. On Sunday he was buried in
the family tomb in the Abbey field. There were no people at the wake
Friday night and Saturday night, but there were lots of people at the
funeral on Sunday.

It was a time that it was thought the disease of which the people were
dying was contagious, and would be caught by going into the houses of
the dead people, the time alluded to in those lines of “Jillen Andy.”

    No mourners come, as ’tis believed the sight
    Of any death or sickness now begets the same.

And as these lines come to my mind now, to illustrate what I am saying,
I may as well give the whole of the lines I wrote on the burial of
Jillen Andy, for this is the year she died--the year 1847 that I am
writing about. I dug the grave for her; she was buried without a
coffin, and I straightened out her head on a stone, around which Jack
McCart, the tailor, of Beulnaglochdubh had rolled his white-spotted red

Andy Hayes had been a workman for my father. He died--leaving four
sons--John, Charley, Tead and Andy. The mother was known as Jillen
Andy. The eldest son, John, enlisted and was killed in India; Charley
got a fairy-puck in one of his legs, and the leg was cut off by Dr.
Donovan and Dr. Fitzgibbons; Andy also enlisted, and died in the
English service, Tead was a simpleton or “innocent”--no harm in him,
and every one kind to him. I was at play in the street one day, my
mother was sitting on the door step, Tead came up to her and told her
his mother was dead, and asked if she would let me go with him to
dig the grave for her. My mother told me to go with him, and I went.
Every incident noted in the verses I am going to print, came under my
experience that day. I wrote these verses twenty years after, in the
convict prison of Chatham, England, thinking of old times. That you may
understand some of the lines, I may tell you some of the stories of our
people. There were fairies in Ireland in my time; England is rooting
them out, too. They were called “the good people,” and it was not safe
to say anything bad of them. The places where fairies used to resort
were called “eerie” places, and if you whistled at night you would
attract them to you, particularly if you whistled while you were in
bed. Then, when a person is to be buried, you must not make a prisoner
of him or of her in the grave; you must take out every pin, and unloose
every string before you put it into the coffin, so that it may be free
to come from the other world to see you. And at the “waking” of a
friend, it is not at all good to shed tears over the corpse, and let
the tears fall on the clothes, because every such tear burns a burned
hole in the body of the dead person in the other world.


    “Come to the graveyard if you’re not afraid;
      I’m going to dig my mother’s grave; she’s dead,
    And I want some one that will bring the spade,
      For Andy’s out of home, and Charlie’s sick in bed.”

    Thade Andy was a simple spoken fool,
      With whom in early days I loved to stroll.
    He’d often take me on his back to school,
      And make the master laugh, himself, he was so droll.

    In songs and ballads he took great delight,
      And prophecies of Ireland yet being freed,
    And singing them by our fireside at night,
      I learned songs from Thade before I learned to read,

    And I have still by heart his “Colleen Fhune,”
      His “Croppy Boy,” his “Phœnix of the Hall,”
    And I could “rise” his “Rising of the Moon,”
      If I could sing in prison cell--or sing at all.

    He’d walk the “eeriest” place a moonlight night,
      He’d whistle in the dark--even in bed.
    In fairy fort or graveyard, Thade was quite
      As fearless of a ghost as any ghost of Thade.

    Now in the dark churchyard we work away,
      The shovel in his hand, in mine the spade,
    And seeing Thade cry, I cried, myself, that day,
      For Thade was fond of me, and I was fond of Thade.

    But after twenty years, why now will such
      A bubbling spring up to my eyelids start?
    Ah! there be things that ask no leave to touch
      The fountains of the eyes or feelings of the heart,

    “This load of clay will break her bones I fear,
      For when alive she wasn’t over-strong;
    We’ll dig no deeper, I can watch her here
      A month or so, sure nobody will do me wrong.”

    Four men bear Jillen on a door--’tis light,
      They have not much of Jillen but her frame;
    No mourners come, as ’tis believed the sight
      Of any death or sickness now, begets the same.

    And those brave hearts that volunteered to touch
      Plague-stricken death, are tender as they’re brave;
    They raise poor Jillen from her tainted couch,
      And shade their swimming eyes while laying her in the grave.

    I stand within that grave, nor wide nor deep,
      The slender-wasted body at my feet;
    What wonder is it, if strong men will weep
      O’er famine-stricken Jillen in her winding-sheet!

    Her head I try to pillow on a stone,
      But it will hang one side, as if the breath
    Of famine gaunt into the corpse had blown,
      And blighted in the nerves the rigid strength of death.

    “Hand me that stone, child.” In his ’tis placed,
      Down-channeling his cheeks are tears like rain,
    The stone within his handkerchief is cased,
      And then I pillow on it Jillen’s head again.

    “Untie the nightcap string,” “unloose that lace.”
      “Take out that pin.” There, now, she’s nicely--rise,
    But lay the apron first across her face,
      So that the earth won’t touch her lips or blind her eyes.

    Don’t grasp the shovel too tightly--there make a heap,
      Steal down each shovelful quietly--there, let it creep
    Over her poor body lightly; friend, do not weep;
      Tears would disturb poor Jillen in her last long sleep.

    And Thade was faithful to his watch and ward,
      Where’er he’d spend the day, at night he’d haste
    With his few sods of turf to that churchyard,
      Where he was laid himself, before the month was past.

    Then, Andy died a soldiering in Bombay,
      And Charlie died in Ross the other day,
    Now, no one lives to blush, because I say
      That Jillen Andy went uncoffined to the play.

    E’en all are gone that buried Jillen, save
      One banished man, who dead-alive remains
    The little boy who stood within the grave,
      Stands for his Country’s cause in England’s prison chains.

    How oft in dreams that burial scene appears,
      Through death, eviction, prison, exile, home,
    Through all the suns and moons of twenty years--
      And oh! how short these years, compared with years to come!

    Some things are strongly on the mind impressed,
      And others faintly imaged there, it seems,
    And this is why, when Reason sinks to rest,
      Phases of life do show and shadow forth, in dreams.

    And this is why in dreams I see the face
      Of Jillen Andy looking in my own,
    The poet-hearted man; the pillow case--
      The spotted handkerchief that softened the hard stone.

    Welcome these memories of scenes of youth,
      That nursed my hate of tyranny and wrong,
    That helmed my manhood in the path of truth,
      And help me now to suffer calmly and be strong.

After the burial of Jillen Andy and Tead Andy I was stricken down
with the fever that was prevalent at the time. I was nine or ten days
in bed. The turning day of the illness came, and those who were at
the bedside thought I was dying. My heavy breathing was moving the
bedclothes up and down. I had consciousness enough to hear one woman
say to my mother “Oh, he is dying now.” But it was only the fever
bidding good-bye to me, and I got better day by day after that. Then,
when I came to walk abroad, my eyes got sore--with a soreness that some
pronounced the “dallakeen”; but others pronounced it to be a kind of
fairy-puck called a “blast.” An herb-doctor made some herb medicine
for me, and as my mother was giving it to me one day she was talking
to our next-door neighbor, Kit Brown, and wondering who it could be in
the other world that had a grudge against me, or against the family!
She was sure I had never hurted or harmed any one, and she could not
remember that she or my father had ever done anything to any one who
left this world--had ever done anything that would give them reason to
have a grudge against the family.

You, friendly reader, may consider that what I am saying is small talk.
So it is. But in writing these “Recollections” of mine I am showing
what Irish life was in my day. I am not making caricatures in Irish
life to please the English people, as many Irish writers have done,
and have been paid for doing; I am telling the truth, with the view
of interesting and serving my people. When I was young I got hold of
a book called “Parra Sastha; or, Paddy-go-easy.” Looking at the name
of the book I did not know what Parra Sastha meant; but as I read
through it I learned that it was meant for “Padruig Sasta”--contented,
or satisfied Paddy. The whole book is a dirty caricature of the Irish
character; but the writer of it is famed as an Irish novelist, and died
in receipt of a yearly literary pension from the English government. He
earned such a pension by writing that book alone. England pays people
for defaming Ireland and the Irish.

And men professing to be Irish patriots, in our own day, write books
defamatory of their own people. “When We Were Boys” is the name of
a book written nine or ten years ago by one of those Irish patriot
parliamentary leaders of to-day. It is a libel on the character of
the Fenian movement in Ireland. As I was reading it I said to myself,
“This gentleman has his eye on a literary pension from the English.”
The whiskey-drinking bouts that he records at the Fenian headquarters
in the office of the Fenian newspaper had no existence but in his
imagination, and the brutal murder of a landlord by the Fenians is an
infamous creation of his too. If it is fated that the chains binding
England to Ireland are to remain unbroken during this generation, and
that the writer of that book lives to the end of the generation, those
who live with him need not be surprised if they see him in receipt of a
literary pension. He has earned it.


1847 and 1848.

In the summer of 1847, when Bill-Ned’s decree was executed on our
house, and when all the furniture was canted, notice of eviction was
served upon my mother. The agent was a cousin of ours, and he told my
mother it was better for her to give up the land quietly, and he would
do all he could to help her. She had four children who were not able to
do much work on a farm. She had no money, and she could not till the
land. There were four houses included in the lease--our own house, Jack
McCart’s house across the street, Jack Barrett’s house next door above
us, and Darby Holland’s house next door below. Darby Holland had died
lately, and he would get her his house rent-free during her life, and
give her £12 on account of the wheat crop growing in the strand field,
and let her have the potato crop that was growing in the hill field. My
mother accepted the terms, and we moved into Darby Holland’s house.

The previous two bad years had involved us in debt; friends were
security for us in the small loan banks in Ross and in Leap, and as far
as the twelve pounds went my mother gave it to pay those debts. To give
my mind some exercise in Millbank prison one time, I occupied it doing
a sum in Voster’s rule of Interest, regarding those little loan-banks.
I made myself a banker. I loaned a hundred pounds out of my bank one
week, I got a hundred shillings for giving the loan of it; I got it
paid back to me in twenty weeks--a hundred shillings every week.

I loaned it out again as fast as I got it, and at the end of fifty-two
weeks, I had one hundred and forty-seven pounds and some odd shillings.
That was forty seven per cent. for my money. I wish some of my tenants
on the UNITED IRISHMAN estate would now go at doing that sum in the
rule of Interest-upon-Interest, and let me know if I did it correctly.
’Tis an interesting exercise to go at, if you have leisure time; you
cannot do it by any rule of arithmetic; I give out a hundred pounds
the first week, and get in on it a hundred shillings interest; I lend
out that hundred shillings, and get in on it five shillings: I hold
that five shillings in my treasury till next week; next week I get in
a hundred and five shillings; I lend out five pounds, and get in on it
five shillings interest; I have now a hundred and ten borrowers for the
third week, and have fifteen shillings in the treasury. So on, to the
end of the twenty weeks, and to the end of the year, when my hundred
pounds will have amounted up to £147.

The harvest time of 1847 came on. The potato crop failed again. The
blight came on in June. In July there was not a sign of a potato stalk
to be seen on the land. My brother John and I went up to the hill field
to dig the potatoes. I carried the basket and he carried the spade. He
was the digger and I was the picker. He digged over two hundred yards
of a piece of a ridge and all the potatoes I had picked after him
would not fill a skillet. They were not larger than marbles; they were
minions and had a reddish skin. When I went home, and laid the basket
on the floor, my mother looking at the contents of it exclaimed: “Oh!
na geinidighe dearga death-chuin!” which I would translate into English
as “Oh the miserable scarlet tithelings.”

I will now pass on to the year 1848. In our new house there was a shop
one time, and a shop window. The shop counter had been put away; the
window remained; that window had outside shutters to it, but those
shutters were never taken down. One morning we found pasted on the
shutters a large printed bill. My mother read it, and after reading it,
she tore it down. It was the police that had posted it up during the
night. It was an account of the unfavorable reception the delegation of
Young Irelanders had met with in Paris, when they went over to present
addresses of congratulation to the new revolutionary provisional

France had had a revolution in February, 1848. The monarchical
government had been overthrown, and was succeeded by a republican
government. King Louis Phillippe fled to England--as the street ballad
of the time says:

    Old King Phillippe was so wise,
      He shaved his whiskers, for disguise;
    He wrap’d himself in an old grey coat
      And to Dover he sail’d in an oyster boat.

That you may understand thoroughly what I am speaking about, I quote
the following passages from John Mitchel’s history of Ireland:

“Frankly, and at once, the Confederation accepted the only policy
thereafter possible, and acknowledged the meaning of the European
revolutions. On the 15th of March, O’Brien moved an address of
congratulation to the victorious French people, and ended his speech
with these words:

“‘It would be recollected that a short time ago, he thought it his
duty to deprecate all attempts to turn the attention of the people to
military affairs, because it seemed to him that in the then condition
of the country the only effect of leading the people’s mind to what
was called “a guerilla warfare,” would be to encourage some of the
misguided peasantry to the commission of murder. Therefore it was that
he declared he should not be a party to giving such a recommendation.
But the state of affairs was totally different now, and he had no
hesitation in declaring that he thought the minds of intelligent young
men should be turned to the consideration of such questions as--How
strong places can be captured, and weak ones defended--how supplies of
food and ammunition can be cut off from an enemy, and how they can be
secured to a friendly force. The time was also come when every lover of
his country should come forward openly and proclaim his willingness to
be enrolled as a member of a national guard. No man, however, should
tender his name as a member of that national guard unless he was
prepared to do two things: one, to preserve the State from anarchy; the
other, to be prepared to die for the defence of his country.’

“Addresses, both from the confederation and from the city, were to be
presented in Paris, to the President of the Provisional government, M.
de Lamartine; and O’Brien, Meagher and an intelligent tradesman named
Hollywood, were appointed a deputation to Paris.

“These were mere addresses of congratulation and sympathy. De Lamartine
made a highly poetic, but rather unmeaning reply to them. He has since,
in his history, virulently misrepresented them; being, in fact, a
mere Anglo-Frenchman. Mr. O’Brien has already convicted him of these

It was that “unmeaning reply” of Lamartine’s that the English
government placarded all over Ireland one night in ’48. It was that
poster I saw my mother tear down next morning. It is that memory,
implanted in my mind very early in my life, that makes me take very
little stock in all the talk that is made by Irishmen about France or
Russia, or any other nation doing anything to free Ireland for us. They
may do it, if it will be to their own interest to do it.

My friend, Charles G. Doran, of the Cove of Cork, comes to my
assistance at this stage of my writing. He sends me a full copy of all
that was printed on that poster which my mother tore down. He says:


    I was struck when reading your exceedingly interesting
    “Recollections,” by two things, which I am sure must have
    struck others of your readers also--viz, that your mother must
    have been a very intelligent woman, and a very patriotic woman,
    to discern and so promptly resent the insult offered to the
    Irish people by the government, in printing and placarding
    the cowardly cringing pro-English reply of Lamartine to the
    thoroughly sincere and whole-hearted address of congratulation
    presented by the Irish deputation to the new provisional
    government of France. It would hardly surprise one to learn
    that the pro-English spirit pervading Lamartine’s reply was
    prompted by English influence--influence that, though working
    in direct opposition to the establishment of the Republic, was
    not adverse to availing of the new order of things to give a
    _coup de grace_ to Irish hopes for sympathy from that quarter.
    Almost as soon as Lamartine had spoken his wretched response,
    the English government had it printed in the stereotyped
    Proclamation form, and copies of it sent to all parts of
    Ireland, and posted by the police on the barracks, courthouses,
    churches, chapels, market-houses--public places of every
    description--aye, even on big trees by the roadside--anywhere
    and everywhere that it would be likely to be seen. And it was
    seen, and read, and commented on, and criticised and bitterly
    denounced, and no matter what may be said to the contrary,
    it had the effect that England desired--it disheartened and
    weakened the ranks of the young Irelanders. At first, the
    accuracy of the proclamation was doubted, but a couple of days
    served to dispel the doubt which gave place to dismay and
    disappointment, and England scored; substituting confidence for
    uncertainty and uneasiness--Lamartine, her ally--not her enemy!
    As there are few Irishmen living at present who have ever read
    that document, or, perhaps, ever heard of its existence until
    referred to in your “Recollections,” I have transcribed it
    from an original copy, and send the transcript to you as you
    may find a nook for it in your pages some time or another.

    Here it is:


        “PARIS, Monday, April 3, 1848.--This being the day fixed by
        the Provisional government for the reception of the members
        of the Irish deputation, Mr. Smith O’Brien and the other
        members of the Irish confederation went to the Hotel de
        Ville to-day at half-past three to present their address.
        They were received by Mr. Lamartine alone; none of the
        other members of the Provisional government being present.
        Besides the address of the Irish Confederation, addresses
        were presented at the same time by Mr. R. O’Gorman, Jr.,
        from citizens of Dublin; by Mr. Meagher from the Repealers
        of Manchester, and by Mr. McDermott from the members of the
        Irish confederation resident in Liverpool. M. Lamartine
        replied to the whole of these addresses in one speech as

        “_Citizens of Ireland_!--If we required a fresh proof of
        the pacific influence of the proclamation of the great
        democratic principle, this new Christianity, bursting
        forth at the opportune moment, and dividing the world, as
        formerly, into a Pagan and Christian community--we should
        assuredly discern this proof of the omnipotent action of
        the idea, in the visits spontaneously paid in this city to
        Republican France, and the principles which animate her,
        by the nations or by sections of the nations of Europe.

        “We are not astonished to see to-day a deputation from
        Ireland. Ireland knows how deeply her destinies, her
        sufferings and her successive advances in the path of
        religious liberty, of unity and of constitutional equality
        with the other parts of the United Kingdom, have at all
        times moved the heart of Europe!

        “We said as much, a few days ago, to another deputation of
        your fellow citizens. We said as much to all the children
        of that glorious Isle of Erin, which the natural genius of
        its inhabitants, and the striking events of its history
        render equally symbolical of the poetry and the heroism of
        the nations of the north.

        “Rest assured, therefore, that you will find in France,
        under the Republic, a response to all the sentiments you
        express toward it.

        “Tell your fellow citizens that the name of Ireland is
        synonymous with the name of liberty courageously defended
        against privilege--that it is one common name to every
        French citizen! Tell them that this reciprocity which
        they invoke--that this hospitality of which they are not
        oblivious--the Republic will be proud to remember, and
        to practise invariably toward the Irish. Tell them above
        all, that the French Republic is not, and never will be an
        aristocratic Republic, in which liberty is merely abused
        as the mask of privilege; but a Republic embracing the
        entire community, and securing to all, the same rights and
        the same benefits. _As regards other encouragements it
        would neither be expedient for us to hold them out, nor
        for you to receive them. I have already expressed the
        same opinion with reference to Germany, Belgium and Italy,
        and I repeat it with reference to every nation which is
        involved in internal disputes--which is either divided
        against itself or at variance with its government._ When
        there is a difference of race--when nations are aliens in
        blood--intervention is not allowable. We belong to no party
        in Ireland or elsewhere, except to that which contends
        for justice, for liberty, and for happiness of the Irish
        people. No other party would be acceptable to us in time
        of peace. In the interests and the passions of foreign
        nations, France is desirous of reserving herself free for
        the maintenance of the rights of all.

        “_We are at peace, and we are desirous of remaining on good
        terms of equality, not with this or that part of Great
        Britain, but with Great Britain entire. We believe this
        peace to be useful and honorable, not only to Great Britain
        and the French Republic, but to the human race._ We will
        not commit an act--we will not utter a word--we will not
        breathe an insinuation at variance with the reciprocal
        inviolability of nations which we have proclaimed, and of
        which the continent of Europe is already gathering the
        fruits. The fallen monarchy had treaties and diplomatists.
        Our diplomatists are nations--our treaties are sympathies!
        We should be insane were we openly to exchange such a
        diplomacy for unmeaning and partial alliances with even the
        most legitimate parties in the countries which surround
        us. We are not competent either to judge them or to prefer
        some of them to others; by announcing our partisanship of
        the one side we should declare ourselves the enemies of
        the other. We do not wish to be the enemies of any of your
        fellow countrymen. We wish, on the contrary, by a faithful
        observance of the Republican pledges, to remove all the
        prejudices which may mutually exist between our neighbors
        and ourselves.

        “This course, however painful it may be, is imposed on
        us by the law of nations, as well as by our historical

        “Do you know what it was which most served to irritate
        France and estrange her from England during the first
        Republic? It was the Civil War in a portion of her
        territory, supported, subsidized, and assisted by Mr. Pitt.
        It was the encouragement and the arms given to Frenchmen,
        as heroical as yourselves, but Frenchmen fighting against
        their fellow citizens. This was not honorable warfare.
        It was a Royalist propagandism, waged with French blood
        against the Republic. This policy is not yet, in spite
        of all our efforts, entirely effaced from the memory of
        the nation. _Well! this cause of dissension between Great
        Britain and us, we will never renew by taking any similar
        course._ We accept with gratitude expressions of friendship
        from the different nationalities included in the British
        Empire. We ardently wish that justice may be found, and
        strengthen the friendship of races: that equality may
        become more and more its basis; but while proclaiming with
        you, with her (Great Britain), and with all, the holy dogma
        of fraternity, we will perform only acts of brotherhood, in
        conformity with our principles, and our feelings toward the
        Irish nation.”

    There is the text of the document. It is printed with Great
    Primer No. 1 type, except the underlined portions which, to
    attract special attention, and convey an “Aha! see now what
    France will do for you?” are printed with English Clarendon on
    Great Primer body--an intensely black thick type.

    Well, friend Rossa, that cowering Frenchman is dead, and that
    Republic which he so zealously guarded in the interest of
    England--not the Republic of the present, glory to it--is dead
    too! Had Lamartine lived to witness the revival of Trafalgar
    memories a few days ago, after a period of ninety years, I
    believe that he would bitterly regret ever having given birth
    to that disheartening document.

    Hoping that you and yours are well, I am my dear friend Rossa,

        Ever Faithfully Yours,

                                                       C. G. DORAN.



John Mitchel, John Martin, Smith O’Brien, Terence Bellew McManus
and other prominent men in the Young Ireland movement of 1848 were
transported to Australia, and the movement collapsed. There was no
armed fight for freedom. The Irish people had no arms of any account.
England seized all they had, and she supplied with arms all the English
that lived in Ireland. She supplied the Orangemen with arms, and she
supplied arms to the Irish who were of the English religion. In the
year 1863, John Power Hayes of Skibbereen gave me a gun and bayonet
to be raffled, for the benefit of a man who was going to America. He
told me it was a gun and bayonet that was given to him by the police
in 1848, when all the men of the English religion who were in the town
were secretly supplied with arms by the English government.

At the end of the year 1848, my home in Ross got broken up; the family
got scattered. The family of my Uncle Con, who went to America in the
year 1841 were living in Philadelphia. They heard we were ejected, and
they sent a passage ticket for my brother John, who was three years
older than I. My brother Con, three years younger than I, was taken
by my mother’s people to Renascreena, and I was taken by my father’s
sister who was the wife of Stephen Barry of Smorane, within a mile
of Skibbereen. Her daughter Ellen was married to Mortimer Downing of
Kenmare, who kept a hardware shop in Skibbereen, and I soon became a
clerk and general manager in that shop. My brother in Philadelphia
sent passage tickets for my mother and brother and sister, and I was
left alone in Ireland. I suppose they thought I was able to take care
of myself in the old land. How much they were mistaken, the sequel of
those “Recollections” may show.

The day they were leaving Ireland, I went from Skibbereen to
Renascreena to see them off. At Renascreena Cross we parted. There
was a long stretch of straight even road from Tullig to Mauleyregan
over a mile long. Renascreena Cross was about the middle of it. Five
or six other families were going away, and there were five or six
cars to carry them and all they could carry with them, to the Cove
of Cork. The cry of the weeping and wailing of that day rings in my
ears still. That time it was a cry heard every day at every Cross-road
in Ireland. I stood at that Renascreena Cross till this cry of the
emigrant party went beyond my hearing. Then, I kept walking backward
toward Skibbereen, looking at them till they sank from my view over
Mauleyregan hill.

In the year 1863, I took a trip to America, and visited Philadelphia.
It was night-time when I got to my brother’s house. My mother did not
know me. She rubbed her fingers along my forehead to find the scar that
was on it from the girl having thrown me from her shoulders over her
head on the road, when I was a child.

Nor, did I well know my mother either. When I saw her next morning,
with a yankee shawl and bonnet, looking as old as my grandmother,
she was nothing more than a sorry caricature of the tall, straight,
handsome woman with the hooded cloak, that was photographed--and is
photographed still--in my mind as my mother--

    “Who ran to take me when I fell,
    And would some pretty story tell,
    And kiss the part to make it well.”

This rooting out of the Irish people; this transplanting of them from
their native home into a foreign land, may be all very well, so far as
the young people are concerned; but for the fathers and mothers who
have reared families in Ireland, it is immediate decay and death. The
young tree may be transplanted from one field to another without injury
to its health, but try that transplanting on the tree that has attained
its natural growth, and it is its decay and death. The most melancholy
looking picture I see in America, is the old father or mother brought
over from Ireland by their children. See them coming from mass of a
Sunday morning, looking so sad and lonely; no one to speak to; no one
around they know; strangers in a strange land; strangers I may say in
all the lands of earth, as the poet says:

    Through the far lands we roam,
      Through the wastes, wild and barren;
    We are strangers at home,
      We are exiles in Erin.

Leaving the “bad times,” the sad times, even though they were in the
happy time of youth, I must now reluctantly move myself up to the
time of my manhood. From 1848 to 1853, I lived in the house of Morty
Downing--save some four months of the five years. He had five children,
and we grew to be much of one mind; Patrick, Kate, Denis, Simon and
Dan. They are dead. The four sons came to America, after three of
them had put in some time of imprisonment in Ireland in connection
with Phœnixism and Fenianism. These four went into the American army.
Patrick was in the war as Lieutenant Colonel of the Forty-second
(Tammany) Regiment. He died in Washington some ten years ago. Denis
was Captain in a Buffalo regiment, and lost a leg at the battle of
Gettysburg. He had command of the military company at the execution of
Mrs. Surratt in Washington; he made a visit to Ireland; died there, and
is buried in Castlehaven. Simon and Dan were in the regular army and
are dead. All my family were in the war and are dead. My brother John
was in the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania regiment; my brother Con served on
the warship Iroquois, and my sister’s husband, Walter Webb, served in
the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania cavalry.

I now go back to my recollections in Ireland. I remember the time of
the passing of the Ecclesiastical Titles bill in 1851, when England
made a law subjecting to a fine of £100 any Catholic bishop in Ireland
who would sign his name as bishop or archbishop of his diocese. As soon
as this bill was passed, Archbishop McHale defied it, and issuing a
pastoral, signed his name to it as “John McHale, Archbishop of Tuam.”
England swallowed the defiance, and did not prosecute him. The Rev.
Father Perraud, a French priest, writing on that subject says that
England came to see that the policy of arresting a bishop for such a
breach of law would not work well. Here are a few of his words:

“It is useless to conceal the fact it is not regiments encamped in
Ireland; it is not the militia of 12,000 peelers distributed over the
whole of the surface of the land, which prevents revolt and preserves
the peace. During a long period, especially in the last century, the
excess of misery to which Ireland was reduced had multiplied the
secret societies of the peasantry. Who have denounced those illegal
associations with the most persevering, powerful, and formidable
condemnation? Who have ever been so energetic in resistance to secret
societies as the Irish Episcopacy? On more than one occasion the
bishops have even hazarded their popularity in this way.

“They could, at a signal, have armed a million contestants against a
persecuting government--and that signal they refused to give.”

I remember the starting of the Tenant League movement in 1852, that
movement that opened a field of operation for the Sadliers, the Keoghs,
and others who went in to free Ireland by parliamentary agitation. It
failed, as other movements since have failed that went in for freeing
Ireland by parliamentary agitation. It is in that English Parliament
the chains for Ireland are forged, and any Irish patriot who goes into
that forge to free Ireland will soon find himself welded into the
agency of his country’s subjection to England.

I remember the Crimean war of 1853-54, and the war of the Indian mutiny
of 1857. There was hardly a red-coat soldier to be seen in Ireland
those times. Even the police force was thinned down, by many of them
having volunteered to the seat of war, as members of a land-transport
corps that England called for. The Irish National Cause was dead or
asleep those times. The cry of England’s difficulty being Ireland’s
opportunity was not heard in the land.

The cry of “England’s difficulty being Ireland’s opportunity” is the
“stock in trade” of many Irishmen in Ireland and America who do very
little for Ireland but traffic upon its miseries for their own personal
benefit. Irishmen of the present day should work to free Ireland in
their own time, and not be shifting from their own shoulders to the
shoulders of the men of a future generation the work they themselves
should do. The opportunity for gathering in the crops is the harvest
time, those who will not sow the seed in springtime will have no
harvest, and it is nothing but arrant nonsense for Irish patriot
orators to be blathering about England’s difficulty being Ireland’s
opportunity, when they will do nothing to make the opportunity. I
immediately class as a fraud and a humbug any Irishman that I hear
talking in that strain.

I remember when Gavan Duffy left Ireland. I think it was in 1854.
He issued an address to the Irish people, in which he said that the
Irish national cause was like a corpse on the dissecting table. Yet,
the cause was not dead, though it was certainly stricken by a kind
of trom-luighe--a kind of “heavy sleep” that came upon it after the
failure of ’48, and after the recreancy of the Sadlier and Keogh gang
of parliamentary patriots. The “corpse” came to life again.

I was in the town of Tralee the day I read Duffy’s address in the
Dublin _Nation_ newspaper.

My brother-in-law, John Eagar, of Miltown and Liverpool, with his wife,
Ellen O’Shaughnessy, of Charleville, were with me.

I got the _Nation_ at Mr. O’Shea’s of the Mall; I came to the hotel and
sat down to read it. My friends noticed that I was somewhat restless,
reading the paper; I turned my face away from them, and they asked if
anything was the matter with me. Next day I was writing an account
of my vacation and travels to John Power Hayes, a friend of mine in
Skibbereen; he was a kind of poet, and I wrote to him in rhyme. I look
to my notes in my memory now, and I find the following are some of the
lines I wrote:

    Dear John: it’s from Miltown, a village in Kerry,
    I write these few lines, hoping they’ll find you merry;
    For I know you’re distressed in your spirits, of late,
    Since “Corruption” has driven your friend to retreat,
    And being now disengaged for a few hours of time,
    Just to try to amuse you, my subject I’ll rhyme.
    Well, you know I left Cork on the evening of Sunday;
    I got to Killarney the following Monday;
    I traveled to view the legendary places
    Till Thursday came on--the first day of the Races;
    Amusements were there for the simple and grand,
    But I saw that which grieved me--the wealth of the land
    Was, in chief, represented by many a knight,
    Who was sworn on oath, for the Saxon to fight,
    And to drive all his enemies into confusion,
    But I thought in my heart they were cowards, while the “Rooshian”
    Was granting “commissions of death,” ex-officio,
    To remain Barrack officers of the militia.
    And it sickened the heart of myself who have seen
    The starved and the murdered of Skull and Skibbereen,
    To see those McCarthys, O’Mahonys, O’Flynns,
    And also O’Donoghue, Chief of the Glens.
    All sworn--disgraceful to all our traditions--
    To command the militia instead of Milesians.
    I also should tell you that while at the races,
    I made my companions scan hundreds of faces,
    To get me a view, for my own recreation,
    Of one that I knew but by name in the _Nation_,
    And if I, unaccompanied, happened to meet him,
    With the choicest of drinks I’d be happy to treat him;
    For I swear by all firearms--poker and tongues,
    By his side I would fight to redress all our wrongs.
    He may be a wealthy or poor man, a tall, or
    A small man, but know that his name is Shine Lalor.
    Then leaving Killarney--seeing all I could see--
    I wended my way the next day to Tralee;
    I inquired of a man whom I met at the station
    If he’d please tell me where I’d get the _Nation_;
    He inquired of another and then told me call
    To the house of one Mr. O’Shea at the Mall.
    Then I went to my inn and proceeded to read,
    While the others, to get some refreshments agreed.
    While reading, I fell into some contemplation
    When Duffy addressed “Constituents of the _Nation_,”
    And then, through what agency I cannot prove,
    Each nerve of my body did instantly move,
    Each particle quivered, I thought that a gush
    Of hot blood to my eyelids was making a rush;
    I saw myself noticed by some of the folk,
    Who, if they knew my feeling, would make of it joke,
    And I kindly requested that some one would try
    To detect a small insect that troubled my eye.
    The effort was made, with but little success.
    Say, bad luck to all flunkeys, their patrons and press.

At that time the regiment of Kerry militia were out, under command
of the O’Donoghue of the Glens, and were officered by the McCarthys,
O’Mahonys, O’Flynns and other Kerrymen belonging to the old Milesian
families. The regiment was shortly after drafted over to England to do
duty there.

That is forty-two years ago. The reader will be able to judge from the
foregoing lines of rhyme, that my opinions at that early day of my life
were the same as they are to-day, and that I have not got into any
bohreens or byroads of Irish national politics during those forty-two

Two years after the time I am speaking of, a number of young men in
Skibbereen, realizing the sad state of things, came together and
started the Phœnix National and Literary Society. I think that Society
was started in 1856. I remember the night we met to give it a name.
Some proposed that it be called the “Emmet Monument Association.”
Others proposed other names. I proposed that it be called the “Phœnix
National and Literary Society”--the word “Phœnix” signifying that
the Irish cause was again to rise from the ashes of our martyred
nationality. My resolution was carried, and that is how the word
“Phœnix” comes into Irish national history.

Most of the boys who attended that meeting are dead. I could not now
count more than four of them who are living: Daniel McCartie, of
Newark, N. J.; Dan O’Crowley, of Springfield, Ill., and Patrick Carey,
of Troy, N. Y.

James Stephens came to Skibbereen one day in the summer of 1858. He
had a letter of introduction from Jas. O’Mahony, of Bandon, to Donal
Oge--one of our members. He initiated Donal Oge (Dan McCartie) into the
Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood. Donal Oge initiated me the next day; I
initiated Patrick J. Downing and Morty Moynahan the following day; and
so, the good cause spread.

In three or four months, we had three or four baronies of the southwest
of Cork County organized; Donal Oge, Morty Moynahan and I became three
centres of three circles. We had drillings at night in the woods and on
the hillsides; the rumblings, and rumors of war were heard all around;
the government were becoming alarmed; they made a raid upon our homes
on the night of December 8, and the second day after, some twenty of us
were prisoners in the county jail in the city of Cork.



The last chapter commenced with the arrest of the men of ’48 and ran
over the succeeding ten years, up to the arrest of the men of ’58.
Those ten years carried me from boyhood into manhood. I could very well
skip them by, and say no more about them, but many men and women who
are reading these “Recollections” in the _United Irishman_ would not be
pleased at my doing that. They have become interested in my stories of
Irish life and Irish character, and, as one purpose of my writing is to
make a true picture of these, I must, even at the risk of being charged
with egotism, face that charge, and tell my own story.

When I came to live in Skibbereen, in 1848, there was a Father Matthew
Temperance society in the town. I took the Father Matthew pledge, and I
became a member of that society. I kept that pledge till the year 1857.
To that circumstance I place a due share of credit for being able to go
through the world with a strong and healthy constitution. It is no harm
to add that the past seventeen years of my life have been with me years
of temperance, as were those nine years from ’48 to ’57.

I had no salary in Skibbereen the first year. I was clothed and fed as
one of the family. Then, my aunt’s son-in-law, Morty Downing, changed
his residence from one house to another, and enlarged his business by
adding general hardware, cutlery and agricultural seeds to his stock of
ironmongery and farm implements. I was allowed a salary of two pounds
a year, I was offered an indentureship of clerkship for five years,
but I would not sign the indentures. I did not want to bind myself. My
aunt wanted me to do it, but I would not. My employer represented to
her that I was becoming too much my own master, and that for my own
good, he wanted to have a stronger hand over me. Possibly he was right,
but all to no use, I remained wrong, and kept my freedom. He would go
to my aunt’s place at Smorane--a mile outside the town--every Sunday
evening; and, riding his horse “Mouse” into town one evening, he saw
me riding through the street on an empty tar barrel. Next morning he
was out of bed before I was up, and as I came downstairs he met me with
a whip in his hand. He gave me a good thrashing. I didn’t cry, I only
sulked. That evening I took my supper in the kitchen. While taking
supper, Kittie, the boss servant, told me that the master said I was
to do her work of cleaning all the shoes next morning, and that as
she would be out milking the cows I would find the shoes in the usual
place. When I came downstairs next morning, Kittie was out milking the
cows; there was a nice blazing fire in the grate; I got a stool and
I put it opposite the grate; I got the shoes and boots and put them
on the stool; I got the water can, and I filled the boots and shoes
with water. There I left them, and left the house and went home to my
mother in Ross. She had not then gone to America; she was living in
the house that was left to her rent-free during her life for giving up
peaceable possessions of the farm.

That week, the wife and children of our cousin, Paddy Donovan in New
York, were leaving Ross for America. My god-father, Jerrie Shannahan,
was the car-man who was taking them to Cork. I went to Cork with them.
When they sailed away I came back to Ross with my god-father. We left
Cork on Saturday evening, and were in Ross on Sunday morning. Our horse
had no load coming back but the two of us.

During the few days I was in Cork, I went around, looking for work.
I had with me a good character certificate that I got from my parish
priest. These were the words of it--“I know Jeremiah O’Donovan, of this
parish, to be a smart, intelligent young lad. His conduct, up to this,
has been good and correct. I recommend him as one who will prove honest
and trustworthy.--Michael O’Hea, P. P., Ross Carberry.”

With that, I went on board a ship in the river Lee, and offered myself
as cabin-boy, or any kind of boy. The mate liked me; but as the captain
was not on board he could not, in his absence, take me.

Then, I knew that Andy-Andy lately ’listed, in Ross, and that he and
his regiment were in barracks in Cork. I went up to the top of Cork
Hill. I inquired at the barrack gate for Andy Hayes of Ross. I was told
he was detailed on guard duty at the County Jail. I made my way to the
County Jail, and there, inside the gate--in the guard-house, between
the inside gate and the outside gate--I met Andy-Andy, in England’s
red-coat uniform--as fine a looking man as you’d meet in a day’s
walk--six feet two or three in height. Three or four years before that
day, I buried his mother, Jillen, without a coffin--

    Then Andy died a-soldiering in Bombay,
    And Charlie died in Ross the other day;
    Now, no one lives to blush, because I say
    That Jillen Andy went uncoffined to the clay.

And eight or nine years after the day that I met Andy-Andy in the
guard-room of the County Jail of Cork, I thought of him as I stood
handcuffed in that same guard-room, going in to that Jail a Phœnix

And what strange connections I find myself making in these
Recollections of mine! Last week Daniel O’Donovan, the shoe
manufacturer of Lynn, made a visit to my office. “Rossa,” said he. “You
spoke of an uncle of mine in that book of prison life that you wrote;
you remember the man, Jack McCart, that gave you the handkerchief to
roll around the stone that pillowed Jillen’s head--that man, John
Dempsey-McCart, was the brother of my mother.”

    “Hand me that stone, child!” in his hand ’tis placed;
      Down-channeling his cheeks are tears like rain;
    The stone within his handkerchief is cased,
      And then I pillow on it Jillen’s head again.

And how can I help thinking of the wreck and ruin that come upon the
Irish race in the foreign land! One in a hundred may live and prosper,
and stand to be looked at as a living monument of the prosperity,
but ninety-nine in a hundred are lost, never to be heard of. The six
O’Donovan brothers that I saw sail out from the Cove of Cork--the sons
of Patrick O’Donovan-Rossa and Mary O’Sullivan-Buadhaig--came to be
known as men in the First Ward of New York a few years after--Den, Dan,
Jerrie, John, Conn and Florrie Donovan; all of them dead; one only
descendant belonging to them, living at the present day.

And what a change came in my own life and in my own character during
the six or seven years that transpired after those cousins of mine left
Ross. The day they left, my parish priest, Father Michael O’Hea, gave
me a good character, as a “smart, intelligent young lad,” recommending
me to the world as one who would be found “honest and trustworthy.”
Seven years after, the two of us were living in Skibbereen, and he, as
Bishop O’Hea, turned me away from his confessional, telling me not to
come to him any more. I had become a Fenian; his “smart, intelligent
young lad” had turned out to be a bad boy. Such is life. As this is
jumping ahead of my story a little, and rushing into the cross part of
my “Recollections” I will jump back again, and tell how I got on after
I came home from Cork.

My mother had a message before me from Morty Downing, telling me he
wished I would go back to him again, and that all my bad deeds would be
forgiven and forgotten. I went back to him, at my £2 a year salary. The
first investment I made out of that salary was to purchase the whole
stock in trade of Eugene Daly, a book-seller, who hawked books around
the town and country. I bought his entire stock at one penny a volume,
and they came just to £1--240 volumes. Then he bought a pound’s worth
of knives and scissors and razors and small cutlery in the shop, and
the price of them was put against my salary.

That box of literature, as I call it--for I bought box and all--very
soon brought me to grief--well, not exactly that, but it very soon got
me into trouble. My bedroom was not the very best room in the house. It
was a kind of garret, in which were stored lots of old newspapers. Mr.
Downing had been one of the Young Irelanders, and he had stored in my
room all the Repeal and Young Ireland newspapers of the previous five
or six years. As soon as I’d get to bed at night I’d read in bed, and
I’d fall asleep reading, leaving the candle lighting. Some little fire
accident occurred that Kittie reported to the governor--some of the
bedclothes had burned holes in them, and Kittie got orders not to give
me any more candlesticks going to bed. Another accident occurred: I had
two nails driven into the partition, above my pillow. I kept a lighted
candle between the two nails. I fell asleep reading. When I awoke I
was in a blaze. The partition had burned in it a hole that I could run
my fist through. I had to make an open confession this time, and to
solemnly promise I would never again read in bed.

My employer got into the wool, cotton, and flax business, and
occasionally had contracts for supplying those materials to the Poor
Law Unions of Skibbereen, Bantry, and Kenmare. In connection with those
contracts I, a few times, visited the Poor Law Boards of Kenmare
and Bantry. In Kenmare I was the guest of my employer’s brother, Dan
Downing of the Washington Hotel. He was married to the sister of
William Murphy, the architect, who kept a hotel in Bantry. Oh! they’re
all dead now. And I suppose those handsome Kerry girls that played
their nettlesome-night joke on me that night, are dead too. They could
find no bedroom candlestick to give me; they showed me the bedroom,
telling me the door was open. I went to bed, and as I rolled the
clothes around me I found myself imbedded in nettles. At the breakfast
table next morning, Mrs. Downing hoped I had a good night’s sleep. I
asked her which of the girls was the chambermaid, and I saw they had
the laugh on me.

And very likely all the Kenmare men of that day are dead also. And good
Irishmen they were:--John Fitzmaurice Donnelly, Patsy Glanney, Long
Humphrey Murphy, Myles Downing, Paddy the Gauger, and others of that
company. Stewart Trench, the land-agent of Lord Lansdowne, was that
time in his glory--evicting the Lansdowne tenantry. The stories I heard
of him moved me to parody that Robinson Crusoe poem, about him. Here
are a few of the verses:

    He is monarch o’er all he can sway,
      His right there is none to dispute;
    Thro’ Kenmare and along by the sea
      He is lord of the man and the brute.


    O, Kerry! where now is the spirit
      That ever distinguish’d thy race.
    If you tolerate Trench you will merit
      A stigma of shame and disgrace.

    Persecution by law he can preach.
      He can nicely “consolidate” farms;
    He can blarney and lie in his speech,
      And exterminate Irish in swarms.

    An invader, himself and his clan,
      ’Tis a maxim comprised in his belief,
    To coerce and evict all he can
      For the plund’ring invaders’ relief.

    The hum of contentment or peace
      In those valleys and glens can’t be heard
    Till we manfully look for release,
      From the tyrant, by rifle and sword.

    No hope for a comfort in life
      While crouchingly quiet and obedient
    The weal of your child and your wife
      Is to Trench the tyrannical agent.

The Kenmare men asked me to get printed for them some slips of what I
wrote about Trench. I got them printed, and sent them to the Kerry men.
Trench got hold of one of them, and was mad to find out who was the
writer; he said it was inciting the people to murder him--for, the word
“trench” has that meaning in Kerry. But the Kerry men did not give me

This Trench had earned for himself the reputation of being a most
expert hand at getting rid of what the English landlords called “the
surplus population” on their Irish estates. He was well known in the
barony of Farney in the County of Monaghan, where he was after having
gone through his work of depopulation on the Shirley estate.

And strange! this day that I am writing--some forty-five years after
I wrote the lines about Trench--the “Dundalk _Democrat_” of November
21, 1896, comes on my desk, and I see in it an account of a Land League
meeting in Carrickmacross, presided over by Dean Bermingham, the priest
of the parish. The subject of the speeches at the meeting is the
evictions on this Shirley estate--and this, after all the Tenant-right
bills that England has passed for the tenantry of Ireland during those
past forty-five years! I quote from the “_Democrat_” these few passages:

“On Thursday last a meeting was held in Carrickmacross, called
nominally to support the claim for a reduction of rent made by the
Shirley tenantry, and for the restoration of the evicted tenants on
that estate.

“Dean Bermingham, who was moved to the chair by Mr. Peter Dwyer, V.
C., P. L. G., seconded by Mr. A. Mohan, P. L. G., took as the text
of his speech the resolutions recently forwarded to Mr. Shirley and
the curt reply received. These resolutions, which we have already
published, called for an abatement in the rents owing to the bad prices
and partial failure of the harvest, and requested the landlord to
take advantage of the new Land Act to have the evicted tenants on his
estate reinstated. Dean Bermingham sent a courteously worded letter
to Mr. Shirley with the resolutions; but the only reply received was
an acknowledgment from Mr. Gibbings, the agent, a gentleman referred
to by Mr. Daly, M. P., in his speech as ‘a mere day-servant, a fellow
employed at thirty shillings a week.’ The Dean trenchantly described
the answer as cold, curt, callous, and heartless. He humorously
suggested that though Mr. Shirley might not be expected to treat with
courtesy the parish priest of Carrickmacross, he might have shown a
little politeness to a brother landlord. He (Dean Bermingham) is not
the owner of as many broad acres, but he is the owner of as fine a
castle--the ancient residence of the Earl of Essex, from whom the
Shirleys are descended, and from whom they inherit their Farney estate.
He got that castle honestly--he didn’t get it from old Queen Bess; and
he was proud of owning the ancient stronghold of the McMahons, and
having converted it to a better use than ever it was put to before. The
Rev. chairman referred to the fact that while he threw open Bath walk
to the public, admission to the Shirley demesne is by ticket, which
people have to go to the agent to procure; and when he recently went
and asked for this permission for the convent children for one day, he
was bluntly refused.”

That is enough to show my readers, that notwithstanding all the
Tenant-right bills that England has passed for Ireland during the past
fifty years, England, and England’s lords hold Ireland to day with as
tyrannous a control as they have held it--every day of the past seven
hundred years.

And by the bye, ’tis no harm to remark here, that whatever differences
there may be between the Fenians and the priests, the priests don’t
forget to remind us occasionally of our history, and of how we were
murdered, plundered and pauperized by the English robbers. Whenever
they preach a good sermon on the life of the Church in Ireland, they
have to remind us of this. Some of us blame the priests for not taking
up the sword and fighting against England. ’Tis _our_ place to do
that. ’Tis their place to do as they are doing. But _we_ shirk our part
of our duty, by going around the world preaching against England, on
the anniversary of every day on which Englishmen murdered Irishmen.

If we were the men that we ought to be, we would be doing something to
have “vengeance wreaked on the murderer’s head,” instead of hugging to
ourselves the satisfaction that we are doing all that belongs to Irish
patriots to do, by celebrating those days, in singing “High Upon the
Gallows Tree,” and “The Glories of Brian the Brave.”

But I have not done with Kerry yet. I was speaking of it when Father
Bermingham’s speech about the Essex-Shirley invasion took me into the
northern County. Another of those invaders of the time of Queen Bess
got into the southern County. His name was Petty. He came in as an
English government surveyor, and when he had done his work, he had
surveyed into his own possession all the lands of the O’Sullivans, the
O’Conners, the O’Connells, the O’Moriartys, the O’Donoghues, and other
Irish clans. From that Petty comes to us this Marquis of Lansdowne,
who has his English title to the town of Kenmare and all the townlands
around it. The Lansdowne of my day, hearing of the “good” work that
Trench was able to do, brought him from Monaghan to Kerry, and gave him
_carte blanche_ to go on with his “improvements” there. Trench went
at his work with a will. He thought the people were too numerous in
the land, and commenced rooting them out. Cromwell, two hundred years
before that, brought ship-masters from England; shipped the Irish,
men, women, and children, to the Barbadoes, and had them rented out,
or sold as slaves. Trench brought his ship-masters from England, and
shipped the Kerry people to the Canadas--in ships that were so unfit
for passenger service that half his victims found homes in the bottom
of the sea.

Then, to boycott the Scriptural permission to “increase and multiply,”
he issued orders that no people should marry on the estate without his
permission; that holdings should not be divided, nor sub-divided; that
any son to whom he gave permission to marry, and whom he recognized
as the tenant in possession, should not give shelter to his father or
mother, or to the father or mother of his wife. What wonder is it that
the Kerry people regarded Trench with a holy hatred? What wonder if
they would be glad that somebody would “trench” him?

In reading the history of France, and of what the “nobles” of France
were for some centuries preceding the time of Napoleon, I couldn’t help
thinking of the kinship in manners and mind that seemed to be between
them and the English “nobles” in Ireland. French history says, that the
French noble would come home from a day’s hunting; his boots would be
wet; his feet would be cold; he would order that one of his retainers
be slain, and his body slit; then, he would put his naked feet into
the bowels of the dead man that they might get warm there. Also that
the French “noble” on many estates claimed the right of honeymoon
with every woman who got married on his estate. I am not saying that
Trench or his “noble” Lansdowne went so far; but there was one of those
English “nobles” slain in Leitrim or Donegal a dozen years ago, whose
character came very near the mark, and to which account his death is

I now come back to Skibbereen for a while. During a few seasons of my
time there, I used to take a hand at making what are called Skellig
lists. These are rhyming productions that are gotten up in the
south-western towns of Ireland after Ash-Wednesday--descriptive of the
pilgrimage to the Skellig rocks of the young people who were eligible
for marriage, but who didn’t get married the preceding Shrovetide. On
Shrove-Tuesday night the little boys go around to the houses with tin
whistles, kettle drums, and baurauns, drumming them away to Skellig’s,
making much such a racket as the youngsters make in America on New
Year’s night or Thanksgiving night. For dabbling in the idle diversion
of making those Skellig lists I got the name or fame of being the
poet-laureate of the locality.

And yet I cannot leave my ‘box of literature’ without saying something
more about it. It became the library of my boyhood days and nights.
There were all kinds of books in it; books of piety, books of poetry,
books of love, languages, history, war, and romance. “Hell Open to
Sinners--Think Well On It,” was a terror-striking book. “The Glories of
Mary,” must be a touching book; reading it used to start tears to my

One Good-Friday night every one in the house went to the chapel to
the Office of Tenebræ. I was left at home to mind the house; I cried
enough that night reading my “Glories of Mary.” Twenty-five years ago
I was living in Tompkinsville, Staten Island. John Gill of Tipperary
was a neighbor of mine; he was a member of an Irish society there; he
asked me to join that society. I told him I would. He afterward told
me he had proposed me and that I was elected. He appointed a night
for me to be initiated. I attended at the ante-room of the society
rooms that night. I could hear some noise inside. I was not called in
to be initiated. Next day John Gill told me that some one had started
the story that my mother was a Protestant. I can say that neither my
mother, nor my father, nor any one before me, back to the time of St.
Patrick, was anything but a Catholic; and the tradition in my house is,
that my people gave up all they had in the world rather than give up
the true faith. With such antecedents, I can afford to care but very
little about what any one may say about my losing my soul because I do
all in the world I can do to wrest from the English robbers what they
robbed my people and robbed my country of.

We had a dancing school in Skibbereen that time too, and I went to it.
Teady O’ (Teady O’Sullivan) was the dancing master. I learned from him
ten shillings worth of his art--two steps; the first one, the side
step, and the second one, an advance-and-retire step; and, though I am
past practising them now, I can travel back in memory with those I
hear singing--

    Oh! the days of the merry dancing;
      Oh! the ring of the piper’s tune;
    Oh! for one of those hours of gladness--
      Gone, alas! like our youth--too soon.

With that ten shillings worth of Teady O’s dance I went pretty well
through the world--so far as dancing through it is concerned. I used it
to my amusement, as well as to my punishment on one occasion in prison.
I was in chains in a cell in Portland one day; my legs near my ankles
were circled with chains; my waist was circled with a chain, and from
the waist chain to the ankle chains there were other chains connecting,
down between my legs. In my £1 library of my early days was a book I
had read, called “Schinderhannes, or The Robber of the Rhine.” In that
story was a rapparee character named Carl Benzel. Carl was often put to
prison, and in his prison he used to amuse himself by dancing in his
chains. I thought of him when I was in chains in Portland Prison, and
I commenced dancing in my cell that side-step I learned from Teady O’.
By and by, the warders were shouting out at me to stop that noise. I
would not stop; so, to get rid of the noise that was going from my cell
through the corridor, they put me in the black-hole cell.

The one great book of my early-day library was a book by the name of
“Colton.” It was a collection of many of the sayings of the great
writers. One paragraph in it stuck fast in my mind, and it is in my
mind still. It is this: “That head is not properly constituted that
cannot accommodate itself to whatever pillow the vicissitudes of
fortune may place under it.”

That sentence seems to light up in my head whenever the clouds of “hard
times” hover over me--and that is often enough. That is how it lights
up before me at present.

Morty Downing, of Skibbereen, was a Poor Law Guardian; and, in
connection with his business, I got acquainted with every one connected
with the Skibbereen Poor Law Union. Neddie Hegarty, the porter at the
main gate, was the man I skurreechted most with. He had most to tell
me about the starvation times of the years that had just passed by.
The Chairman of the Board, during most of those times, was Lioney
Fleming, of Oldcourt, a small landlord magistrate. He was a pretty fair
specimen of the English planter in Ireland, who considers that Ireland
was made for England, and that all the people to whose fathers Ireland
belonged are better out of it than in it. Sheep and oxen were tenants
more welcome to Lioney’s estate than Irish men, women, and children;
and the faster the men, women and children in the poorhouse would die,
the oftener would Lioney thank the Lord. “When we were burying them in
hundreds every week,” said Neddie to me one day, “the first salute I’d
get from Lioney, when he’d be coming in, every board-day, would be:
‘Well, Hegarty, how many this week?’ and if I told him the number this
week was less than the number last week, his remark would be: ‘Too bad;
too bad; last week was a better week than this.’”

An inmate of the workhouse named Johnnie Collins was Neddie Hegarty’s
messenger boy. He was lame; he had been dead and buried, but had been
brought back to life by a stroke of Rackateen’s shovel. Rackateen was
the name by which the poorhouse undertaker was known. The dead were
buried coffinless those times. Rackateen took the bodies to the Abbey
graveyard in a kind of trapdoor wagon. He took Johnnie Collins in it
one day, and after dumping him, with others, into the grave pit, one
of his knees protruded up from the heap of corpses. Rackateen gave it
a stroke of his shovel to level it down even; the corpse gave a cry of
pain, and the boy was raised from the pit. That lame man--whose leg had
been broken by that stroke of the shovel--used to come into my shop
every week; and we used to speak of him as the man who was raised from
the dead.

Lioney Fleming was chairman also of the Skibbereen board of
magistrates. I strolled into the courthouse one court-day, about the
year 1855. The police had George Sullivan up for trial, on some charge
of assault. He had employed McCarthy Downing as his attorney. I sat
on the seat behind the attorney. A large pocket knife was produced,
which was found on George when he was arrested. Lioney took hold of
it, and touching one of its springs, it brought to the front a pointed
bolt of iron that made the article look like a marline-spike--an
instrument very handy to sailors and farmers for putting eyes in
ropes. Lioney asked George where did he get that knife; George told
him he bought it in O’Donovan Rossa’s shop. “The man who would sell
such a murderous weapon as that,” said the magistrate, “ought to be
prosecuted.” Touching McCarthy Downing on the shoulder, I whispered
to him--loud enough to have Lioney hear me--“Tell ‘his honor’ to look
on the big blade of it, and he will see that the manufacturer of the
knife is Rogers, of Sheffield, England. ’Tis _he_ should be prosecuted
for trading such murderous weapons as that to the peaceable people of
Ireland.” You should see the black look Lioney gave at me, and the
white smile I gave at him.

Now, I will take myself and my readers to Bantry Bay for a while.

In discharge of my duty of attending to the taking of contracts for my
employer, I went to see the Guardians of the Bantry poorhouse one day,
with some samples of wool and cotton. I had to wait a while, till they
were ready to receive the tenders. In the waiting room was Alexander
M. Sullivan, who became so active in Irish politics, some years after,
as Editor of the Dublin _Nation_. He was then a Relieving-officer of
the Bantry Union. It was after the _coup d’etat_ of Louis Napoleon,
in December, 1851, when coming on the termination of his four years’
presidency of the Republic. I find that time and circumstance alluded
to this way in one of the American school books:

“In December, 1851, a plot formed by the Ultra or Red Republicans,
for the overthrow of the government, was discovered by the president,
who caused all the leaders to be arrested, on the night preceding the
outbreak.” After that “the president became emperor by a majority of
several millions of votes.”

Mr. Sullivan came in for a warm place in my memory that time. I was
in the waiting-room of the Bantry Union board-room: he was there with
other officers and Guardians. The conversation was about the late
_coup d’etat_ in Paris; he spoke warmly on the subject, and said that
that tyrant Napoleon deserved to be shot, and that he himself could
volunteer to shoot him for destroying the Republic. His feelings, as
expressed, harmonized with my own feelings, and I held him in my mind
as a thorough good Irishman. It was not without considerable pain of
mind, seven or eight years afterward, that I found myself obliged to
have a newspaper quarrel with him about Irish revolutionary affairs.

In those visits I made to Bantry I got acquainted with William Clarke,
who kept a hardware store and a dry-goods store there. He told me
he would give me a salary of ten pounds a year, if I came into his
hardware store as clerk, and increase that salary if I deserved the
increase. I told him I would bear the matter in mind. I did bear it in
mind; and coming in to the year 1853 I wrote to Mr. Clarke telling him
I would go to Bantry.

I did go to Bantry, and I spent three months with him. He had, in two
stores, nine or ten clerks. I ate, drank, and slept with them. Every
one of them remained to his dying day, a bosom friend of mine. Yes,
they are all dead.

    The world is growing darker to me--darker day by day,
    The stars that shone upon life’s path are vanishing away.

The name of one of these clerks was Eugene O’Sullivan. He was from a
place called Ross-MacOwen, at the Berehaven side of Bantry Bay. I used
to call him Eoghain, O Ross-Mac-Eoghain. Here is where I want to make
a point in a matter of Irish history. Historians who have written on
the siege and surrender of the Castle of Dunboy, say it was a man named
MacGeoghegan that set fire to the barrel of gunpowder, that blew up
the castle, at the time of the surrender. Some of them write the name
“MacGehan,” “MacGeoghan,” “MacEggan,” and “MacGeohan.”

There are no people of the name of Geoghegan or MacGeoghegan in that
district. But, there are lots of MacOwens or MacEoghans there; and
their surname is O’Sullivan. Owen or Eoghan is Irish for Eugene,
and Eugene is a name in the family of every O’Sullivan-Bere. I am
strongly of opinion that the man who blew up the Castle of Dunbuidhe
was an O’Sullivan and not a Geoghegan; that he was the son of Eugene
or Owen O’Sullivan, that he was known as MacEoghain; but that the
historians who first wrote up the history--being ignorant of the
Irish language--took the pronunciation of “MacEoghan,” and wrote it
MacGeoghan; and that blunder was followed up by pronouncing that middle
“g” in the word Geoghan--a “g” that is always silent before the letter
“h.” Thus comes into Irish history the error of having the defender of
Dunboy Castle a MacGeoghegan instead of a MacEoghan O’Sullivan.

And so it happens in one of Charles Lever’s novels of romance. The name
of it is “Tom Burke of Ours.” It should be “Tom Burke of Ower.” Ower is
the name of a townland in the Parish of Headford, County Galway. It
is owned by the Burke family. They are known all around Connaught as
“the Burkes of Ower.” They generally took service with the English. It
was one of them was killed by the Irish, in the Phœnix Park, Dublin, in
the year 1882, the day he was sworn in with Lord Cavendish, to govern
Ireland for the English. The book publishers should also correct that
error in Lever’s book, and print the name of it “Tom Burke of Ower,”
instead of “Tom Burke of Ours.”

I think there is another mistake in connection with the Irish language,
in Irish national poetry, that spoils the sense of one of Davis’s
poems. That Irish line--

    “Is truagh gan oighre na bhfarradh,”

should be--

    “Is truagh gan oighre na’r bhfarradh.”

He is lamenting the death of Owen Roe O’Neill, and lamenting there is
not an heir of his among us at the present day.

The words “na bhfarradh” in the first line mean “with them”; the words
“na’r bhfarradh” mean “with us,” and that is what the poet meant. Some
publisher of Davis’s poems should make the correction.

The time I spent in Bantry was a pleasant time enough. I had a bedroom
in the hardware store, and I could sleep there, or sleep with the
clerks in the drapery store, whichever I liked best. I think I spent
most of my nights in the hardware store. William Clarke had a brother
who was a ’48 man. He was dead; but all his books were in the house I
had charge of, and as all the old “_Nation_” newspapers, and other
interesting papers were here, I spent many of my nights reading them.

I took my meals at the other house. Mrs. Clark would occasionally
preside at table. She was a grave, stately lady. I was somewhat afraid
of her. I knew she had heard some way that some of the other boys used
to call me “Jer. droll,” but I would say nothing in her presence to let
her think there was anything droll about me. I was proud of my name and
proud of my family. She was of a good family too, for she was one of
the O’Donovans of Clounagoramon, and I knew she did not think the less
of me for tracing my descent from princes and lords of Carberry of the
olden time.

Another lady used to preside at the tea-urn occasionally. She was
a family friend--a Miss Brown of Enniskean, who was on a visit to
the house. When I was bidding good-bye to Bantry, I called to bid
her good-bye, and she shed tears at our parting. Poor dear girl; I
never saw her after. May the Lord be good to her! And the local poor
“characters” of the town made a kindly acquaintance with me too, and
took a permanent place in my memory. Jack Leary--Shaun-a-dauna--a poor
simpleton, had a most intimate acquaintance with me. Down the Lord
Bantry road, one Sunday evening, the boys wanted him to go out boating
with them. He wouldn’t go on sea at all; they took hold of him to force
him into the boat, and he cried out to me, “Oh, Jerrie a laodh! na leig
doibh me bha.”--“Oh, Jerrie dear, do not let them drown me.”

I had from my family the information that in old times, a brother of my
great-grandfather, named Joe O’Donovan Rossa, went to Bantry, became a
currier, and had a tannery there. Con O’Leary had in my day the only
tannery that was in Bantry. I went to that tannery one day, and found
that a man named Donovan was foreman there. His father was living,
but was sick in bed. I went to his bedside, and found him to be the
grandson of my great-grandfather’s brother. That brother was the first
tradesman that was in our family. So said my people, when I was picking
up my genealogical lessons from them. You see, in those old times, when
the Irish clans owned their Irish lands--before the English robbed them
of them--the clansmen did not care about learning trades. But when the
plunderers came down upon them with fire and sword, they had to realize
the necessity of changing their opinions, and changing their way of

When I met Billy O’Shea of Bantry in Cork Jail in 1859, I asked him was
Tim O’Sullivan-Coyraun dead or alive. He said he was dead. Tim often
told me the story of the French fleet coming into Bantry bay in 1796.
He was a young man then, and saw it all. His death was in the Bantry
poorhouse the time of the Crimean war. The priest prepared him for
death. “Father,” said Tim, “I have a dying request to ask you: tell me
what news is there from the Crimea; how are the English there?” The
priest told him there was a terrific battle fought at Balaklava, and
the English were terribly cut up, and defeated. “Thank God,” said Tim,
“that I have that news to take with me. Now I can die happy.” He turned
in the bed, as if settling himself for a good sleep. Half a minute
more, and he was dead. Other memories of Bantry picture my mind. I have
spoken of Billy O’Shea. It was there I first made his acquaintance--

    With fearless Captain Billy O’
      I joined the Fenian band,
    And I swore, one day to strike a blow
      To free my native land.

Billy O’ spent seven or eight months with me in Cork Jail in the year
1859. I was in my store in Madison street, New York, in the month of
July, 1863. It was the day, or the second day after the days of the
battle of Gettysburg. A carriage came to the door; it had a wounded
soldier in it--his uniform begrimed, as if he had been rolling in
earth. He asked me to go to a hospital with him; I went with him. The
hospital was somewhere at the west side of Broadway, near the Cooper
Institute. He wrote his name on the Register as William O’Shea, Captain
Forty-second Tammany Regiment. I went to the ward with him, saw him
stripped, and examined by the doctor. He had four wounds in his body.
One bullet had struck him under the left breast, and went clear through
his body; another struck him in the wrist and came out at the elbow. He
remained a few weeks in the hospital; rejoined his regiment at the seat
of war, and was shot dead in the next battle.

But I have to leave Bantry. During my time there, I could not well get
Skibbereen out of my head. There was a young woman in that town who
appeared to be fond of me, and who was telling me that Skibbereen
seemed lonesome to her without me. I left Skibbereen, having had some
kind of a falling-out with her. I was in her shop one Sunday evening;
friends and neighbors were coming in; and as they came in, they would
go into the parlor back of the shop; sit down and have their talk. By
and by, every one was in the parlor except myself; some one closed the
parlor door, and I was left alone in the shop. There was one man in
the company who had a bank-book, and I knew he was always showing the
bank-book to the girl who was fond of me--to let her see how well he
was providing for the future. The noise of the laughing and the joking
in the room inside came to my ears outside, with a kind of madness,
and I walked out into the street--leaving the shop to take care of
itself. Next day two of the men who were in the room came into Morty
Downing’s store; sat down, and commenced talking to each other, as it
were confidentially, in the Irish language. I was inside the counter; I
could hear all they were saying--and they meant I should hear it, but
they did not pretend so. They talked of Miss Eagar and the man with the
bank-book, and concluded that the match was settled. I did not pretend
to hear them; I was mad. Those two rogues--Peter Barnane and Charles
the Colonel--God be good to them!--carried out their joke well. For two
months after that, I did not go into Miss Eagar’s shop. One moonlight
night I was passing by her house; she was standing in the door; I
did not salute her; she stepped out after me and took the cap off my
head--taking it into the shop with her. I went in after her--for my
cap. She asked what was the matter with me. I asked why did she leave
me alone in the shop that Sunday evening. She said--because she thought
no one had a better right to mind the shop than I had. I told her I
had arrangements made to go to Bantry to live. She said I could go if
I liked; but she liked me better than she liked any one else. I did go
to Bantry; but I came back in three months’ time, and we got married on
the 6th of June, 1853.



After my marriage, my late employer moved into a new house he had
built. I rented the house in which I had lived with him the previous
four or five years, and I carried on the business of hardware and
agricultural seeds merchant. I prospered, pretty fairly, every way. I
had my advertising bills and posters printed in the Irish language. One
side of the house fronted a square, and on that side, I had painted the

    “Here, honest value you will find
    In farm seeds, of every kind;
    If once you try, so pleased you’ll be,
    You’ll come to buy again from me.”

The business language of the shop was mostly Irish, as that was mostly
the business language of the farmers around who dealt with me. The
first Irish-language book I came to read was a book of Irish poems with
translations by Edward Walsh. I was able to read these Irish poems
without any previous book-study of the language. The man who gave
me the book was John O’Driscoll--a grandson of the Irish poet, John
Collins, of Myross. When O’Driscoll was a national school-teacher, he
had been up in Dublin in the training school, and brought the book home
with him.

When Fenian times came on, O’Driscoll was put in prison; he lost
his school-mastership; came to America, and got married in Rutland,
Vermont. The last day I spent with him was the day of John Boyle
O’Reilly’s funeral in Boston. He died shortly after that. God be good
to him! he was a proud, manly Irishman--too manly to live long and
prosper in this world.

In chapter xiii., I took myself, a Phœnix prisoner into Cork Jail in

The readers of the _United Irishman_ in which I am printing these
“Recollections” do not seem satisfied that I should make such a skip as
that in my life, by leaping from 1853 to 1858 without saying anything
particular in those four or five years.

There is nothing very particular to say about Ireland’s cause those
years--for that cause was apparently dead.

It was dead during the Crimean war, ’54-’55, and during the war of
the Indian Mutiny, ’56-’57. But as many writers have written books
and pamphlets about the origin of the movement that is now called
Fenianism--writers, too, who evidently knew little or nothing about its
origin, it may be no harm for me to put on record what I am able to say
on the subject. Any historical pith that may be in it may be picked
from the rest of this chapter.

The Crimean war was going on ’54. There was not a red-coat soldier
left in Ireland; there was not a stir in Ireland against English
rule. Charles Gavan Duffy left Ireland, telling the people the Irish
national cause was like the cause of a corpse on a dissecting table.
The Crimean war ended, and then came on the English war of the Indian
mutiny, ’56-’57. There was not a red-coat soldier left in Ireland. Some
of the young men in Skibbereen came together and started the Phœnix
Society. The phœnix is some fabled bird that dies, and from its ashes
rises into life again. We had some forty or fifty members in that
Phœnix Society. Our first meetings were in the rooms at the back of the
drug store of Doctor Jerrie Crowley.

We read in the newspapers one day in the year 1857 that some Tipperary
rebel had drawn on a wooden gate in the town of Carrick-on-Suir the
picture of an English soldier with an Irish pike through his body,
and that the Town Commissioners of Carrick had offered a reward
for the capture of the artist, and had called for subscriptions to
increase the reward. We got a “rasper” farthing, and we sent it with
a tearful letter to the Carrick Commissioners. Some days after, we
had a letter from Doctor O’Ryan (Doctor Anthony O’Ryan I think)
telling us that there was a rumor that we had sent such a subscription
to the Commissioners; but that the flunkeys had concealed it from
those who were not flunkeys, and asking us to send him a copy of our
communication. We sent it to him.

Doctor Jeremiah Crowley! I have spoken of him; I will speak more of
him. He was one of these Irish doctors of the “famine” times--one of
these Irish doctors who never grow rich at any time in Ireland; for
always in Ireland there is distress--and ever will be while England
is in it. And where there was distress and sickness and death, Doctor
Jerrie was there, without fee or money reward. He died shortly after
giving us his rooms for the Phœnix Society meetings. I was at his wake.
About midnight, twelve young girls dressed in white came into the room
and cried around his coffin. The women cried, and the men in the room
and in the house cried--and cried loudly. A more touching picture of
Irish life and Irish death is not in my recollection. I wrote some
lines about it at the time: they were published in the Cork _Herald_; I
will try and remember them here:


    With sorrowing heart my feelings tend
    To paying a tribute to a friend;
    But friendship is too light a name
    By which to designate the flame
    Of holy love that filled his mind--
    That which endeared him to mankind.
    Skibbereen now mourns his spirit fled,
    For Doctor Jerrie Crowley’s dead.
    Each hill from Skea to Clashatarbh
    Cries out “Ta Doctuir Jerrie marbh.”

    How much--how many, I can’t say
    That tidings grieved that dismal day.
    Far from the town, with lamentation
    They “waked” him--in imagination;
    His house--the poor man’s hospital,
    Received whoever chose to call,
    And townsmen flocked in countless numbers
    To “wake” him from unearthly slumbers.
    If ever cries aroused the dead,
    That corpse would lift its lowly head
    When twelve young maidens dressed in white
    Approached his bier about midnight,
    Shed tears, and raised in solemn tone,
    An unaffected ullagone;
    The women joined, the men by and by
    Were forced to swell this Irish cry,
    Until the house, from door to door,
    Was naught but mourning and uproar.
    Nor quietness reigned, ’till head and voice
    Succumbed to nature--not to choice.
    A hearse next day its presence showed
    To take him to his last abode--
    Brought forth amid an ullagone,
    The public claimed him as their own,
    And said, no hearse should bear his weight
    From thence unto the Abbey gate.
    The Abbey gate is reached, and there
    Eight mourning townsmen did appear
    Who worshipped God a different way,
    Requesting earnestly that they
    Alone would be allowed to lay
    The body in its mother clay.
    Ten priests in tears read obsequies;
    The grave is closed ’mid deafening cries,
    And there, that honest, loving heart
    Ere long, of dust will form a part.
    The sod is laid, the poor remain,
    And loudly call his name--in vain.
    Some recollect when at his door
    At midnight hour they called before.
    Some recollect the pressing hurry
    Be smart; go on for Doctor Jerrie,
    No matter at what hour I mention,
    The humblest call had his attention.
    Tho’ storm howled and swelled the ford;
    Tho’ lightning flashed and thunder roared;
    Thro’ hail and rain, and piercing blast,
    He made his way in anxious haste,
    And never took a poor man’s fee,
    But left one--where was poverty.
    Thus, for his family the worse,
    His heart was larger than his purse.
    A widowed wife and orphans four
    In mourning sad his loss deplore.
    Skibbereen, for whom he ever toiled,
    May pay some tribute to his child
    By educating him, to gather
    A knowledge worthy of the father.

The doctor had four children. The eldest of them was a boy, and the
suggestion in the last four lines was the subject of conversation at
the wake--that it would be a good thing to get up a testimonial to the
widow that would enable her to send the boy to college and have him
educated for the medical profession.

A few other lines in verse may be noted:

    Eight mourning townsmen did appear
    Who worshipped God a different way,
    Requesting earnestly that they,
    Alone, would be allowed to lay
    The body in its mother clay.

There was at that time somewhat of a distant feeling between the
Catholics and the Protestants of the town. Some few years before that,
the Ecclesiastical Titles bill was passed in Parliament, that made
it an offense for a Catholic bishop to sign his name to any paper
or pastoral as “bishop of his diocese.” Some of the Protestants of
the town had privately sent a petition to Parliament praying for the
passage of the bill. Some member of Parliament got the names of those
who signed that petition, and sent them to Skibbereen. The Skibbereen
men had them printed and placarded on the walls, and from that sprang
the cold feeling I allude to. The Protestants, at Doctor Jerrie’s
funeral, stood at the graveyard gate of the Abbey field, and asked us
who were bearing the coffin, to do them the favor of letting them bear
it from the gate to the grave. We granted them the favor, and there
were the ten Catholic priests reading the Catholic prayers, and the
eight Protestants, bearing the coffin through the graveyard.

John Tierney, of Kings County, is reading those “Recollections” of
mine, and he sends me a communication which I will make a place for
here, as the subject he alludes to had place about the time I am now
speaking of--the year 1857. This is his note.

                                     NO. 635 WEST 42D STREET, NEW YORK.

    DEAR SIR--I like best the books I brought with me from dear old
    Ireland; though, like myself, they are sadly the worse for the

    I send you Charles J. Kickham’s story of “Sally Cavanagh.”
    He speaks of you in the preface. Well--well--the figure of
    the world, for us two anyway, “passeth away.” Still, “while
    every hope was false to me,” and also thee, there is pride and
    comfort in such testimony from such a whole-souled Irishman as
    Kickham, who knew not how to favor or flatter, any more than
    your old friend,

                                                          JOHN TIERNEY.

The following are the words of Kickham to which Mr. Tierney refers:

“As I have spoken of so many of my fellow laborers at No. 12 Parliament
street, I must not forget the most devoted of them all. His name
was first brought under my notice in this way: It was the end of the
year 1857, a sketch of the poet Edward Walsh appeared in the _Celt_,
a national periodical established by my lamented friend, Doctor
Robert Cane, of Kilkenny. The poor poet’s story was a sad one, and
it was mentioned that his widow was then living in an humble lodging
in Dublin, hardly earning her own and her children’s bread, as a
seamstress. This moved some generous-hearted persons to write to her,
proffering pecuniary assistance; but the poet’s widow was proud, and
she wished it to be announced in the _Celt_ that she could not accept
money. Mrs. Walsh sent me one of the letters she had received, and here
it is:

                                       “SKIBBEREEN, Xmas morning, 1857.

    “DEAR MADAM--I hoped to spend a happy Christmas Day; but before
    sitting down to breakfast, I took up the last number of the
    _Celt_, and read the conclusion of the memoir of your husband,
    by some kind writer. I now find I cannot be happy unless you
    will do me the favor of accepting the enclosed pound note as
    a small testimony of my sympathy for the widow of one of our
    sweetest poets. I remain dear madam,

        “Yours, Sincerely,

                                                  “J. O’DONOVAN ROSSA.”

I felt a strong desire to know more of this Mr. O’Donovan (Rossa), who
could not sit down to his Christmas breakfast after reading an “o’er
true tale” of suffering, till he had done something to alleviate it.
And when, some months after, I saw his name in the list of prisoners
arrested in Cork and Kerry, on a charge of treason-felony, I was not
surprised. The first of these “Phœnix prisoners placed at the bar,
Daniel O’Sullivan-agreem, was convicted and sentenced to ten years
penal servitude. But before the trials proceeded further, there was
a change of government, and Thomas O’Hagan, now lord-chancellor,
the eloquent advocate of the prisoners, was made attorney-general.
O’Donovan (Rossa) and the rest were prevailed on to go through
the form of pleading guilty, having first stipulated that Daniel
O’Sullivan should be set at liberty. By this step they relieved the
new attorney-general of the awkward duty of becoming the prosecutors
of his clients. The prisoners were released on their own recognizances
to come up for judgment when called upon. It is needless to say that
the fact that he could be at any moment consigned to penal servitude
for life, or for any number of years the government pleased without the
form of a trial, had no effect whatever upon the political conduct of
O’Donovan (Rossa). After this I saw his name again in the newspapers as
a candidate for the situation of Relieving Officer to the Skibbereen
Union. In his letter to the Guardians he said in his manly way: ‘If
you appoint me, notwithstanding my political opinions, I shall feel
proud. But if you refuse to appoint me on account of my political
opinions, I shall feel proud, too.’ It is to the credit of the Board of
Guardians that he was unanimously elected; and the fact shows, too, the
estimation in which the indomitable rebel was held by all who knew him
personally, irrespective of class or creed. The scenes of misery with
which he was brought into closer contact while discharging the duties
of this office intensified his hatred of foreign misrule. Mr. O’Donovan
was the manager of the _Irish People_, and while on his business tours
through Ireland and England, one of its ablest correspondents. He also
contributed to its leading columns, and even to the ‘poet’s corner.’”

When I come to the years 1859 and 1862 I will have something to say
about that “pleading guilty” and that “Relieving Officership of the
Skibbereen Union.”

After the death of Dr. Jerrie Crowley, the Phœnix men moved from the
rooms they had occupied back of the drugstore into other rooms that
they rented from Morty Downing--not the Morty I have spoken of before,
but another Morty who was called Morty the Second.

On the 2d of January, 1858, we had an anniversary celebration in those
new rooms. We had a supper, and after the supper we had speech-making.
Daniel O’Crowley, now living in Springfield, Ill., was, I think, the
secretary of the meeting at that time. Denis McCarthy-Dhoun, who
afterward died in London, was the chairman at the supper. We were
subscribing for the Irish National journals at the time. I sent a
report of the meeting to the _Dundalk Democrat_, and I sent with it a
pound note, asking the editor to send me a pound’s worth of the papers.

The speeches were published in the _Democrat_, and from the _Democrat_
they were published in other papers--in French papers and American
papers. It was from those circumstances that that which is now called
Fenianism took the start. James Stephens was in Paris at the time,
and I think John O’Mahony was in Paris, too. Anyway, they were in
communication with each other, or got into communication with each
other. The report of the Skibbereen meeting showed them that the old
cause was not dead; that the seed of national life was in the old land
still. They agreed to start into action. James Stephens was to act
in Ireland, and John O’Mahony was to act in America. Thus it came to
pass that James Stephens visited Skibbereen in the summer of 1858,
and planted the seed of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood there, as
I have already said in chapter xiii.; and thus it came to pass that
John O’Mahony started the “_Phœnix_” newspaper in New York in the year
1859, when many men in Skibbereen, Bantry, Kenmare, Killarney and other
places had been arrested and put to prison, under the name of Phœnix

How do I know all that? you may ask. Well, I know it this way: After
the Phœnix scare had subsided, Jas. Stephens was living in Paris,
and he wrote to Skibbereen expressing a wish that Dan McCartie and
Patrick J. Downing would visit him there. They did visit him; not the
two together, but one at a time. Dan McCartie returned to Skibbereen;
Patrick J. Downing was sent to America. I met the two of them since,
and it is from them I learned all I have stated relative to the start
of Fenianism. Patrick J. Downing went through the American war; he
was a Colonel of the Forty-second (Tammany) Regiment; he learned his
drill on the hill sides of Ireland; he became our drill-master after
Owens (Considine, whom James Stephens had sent us), left us; he died
in Washington some years ago. Dan McCartie is living in America as I
write--and long may he live.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was in the town of Dundalk, Ireland, in the year 1894. I gave
a lecture there. The chairman of the meeting was Thomas Roe, the
proprietor of the _Dundalk Democrat_. I asked him had he a file of the
paper for the year 1858. He said he had. He went to the office and got
the issue of the paper in which was the report of the Phœnix Society
meeting of January 2d, 1858. I got him to re-publish it; and it is from
the _Dundalk Democrat_ of August 18th, 1894, that I now publish this
speech I made in Skibbereen thirty-nine years ago.

       *       *       *       *       *

“In his lecture at the town hall, Dundalk, last week, O’Donovan Rossa
referred to the fact that the first speech he ever delivered--at a
commemoration of the anniversary of the Phœnix National Society,
Skibbereen, in the beginning of 1858--was sent by him to the _Democrat_
and published by this journal. On turning to the file of 1858, we find
the report of the speech amongst those delivered on the same occasion,
and it is both interesting and instructive at the present time. We
reproduce it here:


    “On the 2d instant the members of this society celebrated the
    first anniversary of its formation by dining together. Mr. D.
    McCarthy presided. When ample justice had been done to the good
    things provided by Mrs. Downing, the following toasts were
    drunk with enthusiasm and responded to:

                           “‘OUR COUNTRY.’

    “Mr. Jeremiah O’Donovan (Rossa) in response to this toast
    spoke as follows: Mr. Chairman and gentlemen. At your call I
    reluctantly rise, for I am badly prepared and ill qualified to
    speak to the toast of Our Country; but should that country ever
    have a call on the services of her sons during my existence,
    I trust I will be found more willing to rise and better
    prepared to act than I am now to speak for it. Too much talk
    and too little action have been the characteristics of Irish
    patriotism during a large portion of the last half century; and
    as we are supposed to learn from experience, it is believed
    that less of the former and a corresponding increase of the
    latter will, in the future, serve our country’s cause best
    and our enemy’s cause least. I don’t know whether or not the
    committee who prepared our toasts took this view of the matter
    when they wrote down this land to be toasted as _our_ country,
    when it is an established fact that _we_ have no country. We
    are the most cosmopolitan race in the whole universe; but
    Irishmen _should_ have a country; they have a right to the
    country of their birth. By the use and aid of one steel--the
    pen--our committee have taken possession of that right, and
    as their title one day may be disputed, I trust they will be
    able and willing to prove it by the aid of another steel--the
    sword (loud cheers). I have heard an anecdote, which I will
    repeat to you, concerning Dr. Croke of Mallow. When a young
    man, he was traveling through France, and in a village there
    he had his seat taken on a Diligence, but having forgotten
    something at the time, he went for it and on his return found
    his place occupied by another. In consideration of the loss
    of his seat he received some impertinence, which he resented;
    a dispute arose, the disputants appealed to the authorities,
    and their names were taken down to appear before a tribunal
    of justice next morning. He gave his name as Thomas Croke, of
    Ireland, but for reasons that you can plainly understand, he
    was called next morning as Thomas Croke, Englishman! Feeling
    the indignity to his country, he never answered till pointed
    out by one of the officials, and when he stated he was Thomas
    Croke, Irishman, and not Thomas Croke, Englishman, he was only
    sneeringly laughed at for presuming to think that he had a
    country. Thus was this Irishman reminded of the loss of his
    country; he had no country; we Irishmen are slaves and outcasts
    in the land of our birth. What a shame! What a disgrace! Yes;
    disgraceful alike to peer and peasant--Protestant, Catholic and
    Presbyterian. Thus may foreign nations believe this country
    is not ours, and I am sure you will not be surprised that
    England is particularly positive on this point. She has made
    all possible efforts to convince us of it. She has broken the
    heads of many Irishmen trying to hammer this opinion into them.
    For seven long and dreary centuries has she been trying to
    force it on us; and against her during all this time have the
    majority of Irishmen protested. Yet has she disregarded every
    protestation, every claim, and every petition, and instead of
    treating us as human beings or subjects, she has made every
    effort that pen, fire and sword could make to extirpate our
    race. She has stained almost every hearthstone in the land with
    the heart’s blood of a victim; and the other day, in savage
    exultation at the idea of her work being accomplished, she
    cried out, ‘The Irish are gone, and gone with a vengeance’
    (groans). But the mercenary Thunderer lies. I read it in
    your countenances. The Irish are not gone; but part of them
    are gone, and in whatever clime their pulses beat to night,
    that ‘vengeance’ which banished them is inscribed on their
    hearts, impregnates their blood, and may yet operate against
    that oppressor who, by his exterminating and extirpating
    laws, deprived them of a means of living in the land of their
    fathers (hear, hear, and cheers). I don’t now particularly
    confine myself to the last ten or twelve years. If I go back
    centuries, the same language will apply to England. In the
    seventeenth century she issued the following instructions
    to Lord Ormond, and as the Eastern monarch said, I now say,
    ‘hear and tremble’:--‘That his lordship do endeavor, with his
    majesty’s forces, to wound, kill, slay or destroy, by all the
    ways and means he may, all the said rebels, their adherents
    and relievers; and burn, waste, spoil, consume, destroy and
    demolish all the places, towns and houses where the said rebels
    are, or have been relieved or harbored, and all the hay and
    corn there, and kill or destroy all the men inhabiting there
    capable of bearing arms.’ When I reflect on this and the other
    innumerable instruments made and provided for the destruction
    of the Irish, I begin to doubt my identity as of Milesian
    descent. Many of you possess similar doubts or feelings, for
    assuredly our ancestors were none of the favored class, and
    nothing but the miraculous intervention of Providence could
    have preserved our race from utter extinction. Again, hear
    what the following historians say:--Carte writes: ‘That the
    Lord Justices set their hearts on the extermination not only
    of the mere Irish, but also of the old English families who
    were Catholics.’ Dr. Leland says that:--‘The favorite object of
    the Irish Governors and the English Parliament was the utter
    extermination of all the Catholics of Ireland.’ Clarendon
    writes that:--‘They have sworn to extirpate the whole Irish
    nation;’ and the Rev. Dr. Warner says that:--‘It is evident
    that the Lord Justices hoped for an extirpation not of the
    mere Irish only, but of all the old English families who were
    Catholics.’ I give you these extracts without wishing to be
    sectarian. The old Irish Catholics were fighting for their
    nationality, and if the old Irish Protestants were to fight
    for the same to morrow, it is proved that the tyrant would
    treat them similarly if she had the power. When will Irishmen
    cease from doing the work of the enemy? When will they ponder
    on their present degraded condition? When will the sunshine of
    unity dispel the clouds of dissension and distrust that hover
    over their understanding, and make them blind to the interests
    of their common country? If it be advantageous for Irishmen to
    make their own laws, to govern their own country--if they are
    qualified to do so--why allow another people to think and act
    for them? Why not Irishmen prefer the interest of their own to
    that of another country? Can I attribute the motives to love or
    fear? Are we so pleased with the fostering care and protective
    kindness of our masters, that we do not care about changing our
    condition? Or can it be that we are so much afraid of the power
    of England, that cowardice alone prevents us from properly
    claiming and obtaining the rights of free men? The time is gone
    when England could create fear; under present circumstances
    she has still the power over Ireland in consequence of all her
    internal elements of discord, disunion and disorganization, but
    not over any united or enlightened people. Russia has proved
    this. America and Naples insult and defy her, and India grasps
    her by the throat and cries: ‘Robber, stand and deliver up your
    booty’ (prolonged cheers). In her humility, she is truly a most
    gullible creature. She now calls for our sympathy and aid. I
    don’t for a moment deny the Saxon interest is strong amongst
    us; yet who will wonder at it? And who will be surprised if
    Lord Mayors and Town Scoundrels, official invaders and castle
    traders; lunatic, militia, stipendiary, detective, expectants,
    and all other innumerable officers and satellites of vicious
    and vice-royalty should forward an address of commiseration
    and condolence, accompanied with a few _lacs_ for the comfort
    and relief of their task masters (cries of ‘they want it’).
    The poor struggling tenant-at-will will pay for all; he can
    starve his family a few pounds more, and he can fatten the
    master’s pigs proportionately, and then when he can’t do any
    more, he will get Indian tenant right, what he richly deserves
    when he fails to take the proper steps to right himself. If
    every farmer in the country had a proper supply of agricultural
    implements, one of which is a pitchfork, and if all combined
    then and petitioned Parliament, stating they were determined to
    improve their holdings and positions, and praying to the House
    to consider their situation, it is my firm conviction they
    would not be long without tenant right, and the remnant of our
    race would not be forced into exile. England has never given
    us anything through a love _for us_ or a love of justice. She
    has ever spurned our petitions when they were not backed by the
    sword or a firm determination, and whenever Irishmen demanded
    an instalment of their rights by the pen alone, they were only
    mocked and laughed at, and sometimes favored with additional
    fetters. Wellington and Peel granted emancipation through fear;
    they admitted it was not safe to refuse it longer; and Grattan
    would never have repealed the Sixth of George I., passed in
    1720, to confirm ‘and better secure the dependence of Ireland,’
    only that the English government knew that

        “Swords to back his words
        Were ready, did he need them.

    But that treaty of ’82 was broken as perfidiously as was the
    treaty of Limerick, and every other treaty or compact that was
    ever made between the two peoples. As a prelude, Ireland was
    incited by the enemy to premature rebellion; and as Archbishop
    Hughes, of New York, said when delivering a lecture on Irish
    starvation in ’46--‘Martial law for the people--a bayonet or
    a gibbet for the patriot who loved Ireland--a bribe for the
    traitor who _did not_--led to that act called the Union, in
    which the charter of Irish nationality was destroyed--I trust
    not forever.’ Irishmen have since experienced the happiness
    of being an integral portion of the _disunited kingdom_; they
    have been relieved from the cares and troubles of native
    manufactories and internal bustle, and they are now such an
    important people as to be saddled with an ‘integral’ portion
    of a thousand million pounds, as a national debt. If we were
    able to pay this debt for England, Ireland may have some
    chance of becoming a separate portion of this kingdom; but
    whoever would seriously endeavor to make her so without any
    stipulation, may experience the blessings of the ‘Glorious
    British Constitution’ through the agency of the halter, the
    dungeon, the convict ship, the gibbet or the jail. When I
    speak of these instruments of our tyrants, thoughts of blood
    and fiendish deeds connected with ’98 and the succeeding years
    visit my memory. The two Thomas street murders, within a few
    years and a few yards of each other, forcibly and brilliantly
    reveal to us the charms of that constitution, and particularly
    that circumstance connected with the murder of Lord Edward,
    where the bloodhounds pursued his spirit to the other world,
    and after the Universal Judge in heaven had passed sentence
    on him either as a traitor or a martyr, they retried him, and
    by a packed jury robbed and plundered his widow and orphan
    children. Excuse me, Mr. Chairman and Irishmen, for trespassing
    so far upon the property of my successor, who is to speak of
    the men of ’98. I have digressed much from my subject, but it
    is more of the heart than of the mind. A few other remarks and
    I will have ceased from tiring you farther. You will understand
    that I am not one of those individuals who believe in the
    regeneration of my country through the agency of a viceroy or
    vice-_reine_, through the propagation of high-blood cattle
    and the cultivation for their support of mangel-wurzel and
    yellow-bullock; the latter would be very well in their proper
    time and place, but I would reverse the order of things, and
    the comforts of human creation would be with me a primary
    consideration to the comforts of the brute species, or as
    my friend and neighbor, Michael Burke, says, I would rather
    see ‘stamina’ in the man than in the animal (laughter). To
    effect this, the existing relations of Irishman and Englishman
    should undergo a change, and now should be the time for the
    Irish nation to agitate for this change, and strive to obtain
    it by every proper means, so as to prevent a recurrence of
    the national disasters of ’46 and ’47, when England allowed
    thousands of our people to starve, and blasphemously charged
    God Almighty with the crime, while the routine of her
    misgovernment compelled the cereal produce of the country to
    be exported. A curse upon foreign legislation. A domestic
    government, no matter how constituted, would never have allowed
    it; even this terrible evil might have been averted, had the
    leaders in ’48 profited by the past history of their country;
    they ought to have known that an enemy never paid any attention
    to moral force, when not backed by physical force, and had the
    Repealers followed the example of the ’82 men, and had they
    presented their petitions with pikes and swords instead of
    with magic wands and brass buttons, the issue would have been
    different with them, and instead of injuring the cause of their
    country, they would occupy as prominent and proud a place in
    her future history as Grattan and his compatriots. To obtain
    a name and a position for our country, and the restoration of
    our plundered rights, we will need such an organization as that
    of ’82--nay such a one as ’48, if you will. Had Irishmen, or
    _any one_ class of Irishmen, been united, bided their time, and
    embraced their opportunity, the future would be ours--no matter
    though there may be many difficulties before men who seek to
    establish a name and position for their country amongst the
    nations of the earth. But let me say, that as Irishmen here
    to-night--we have no foe--no enemy amongst any class or creed
    of our countrymen; politically speaking, the man who looks upon
    us, and men of our political profession, as his enemy, is our
    enemy. He _must_ be a man who would have his country forever
    under the yoke of the foreigner; or, he _must_ be a man who has
    profited by the plunder, or who is supported by the plunderer.
    I now conclude, thanking you for the honor you have done me,
    and the kindness you have shown me, assuring you wherever I am
    cast by fortune, it shall ever be my pride to stand, as I stand
    here to-night, amongst men who are prepared to assist in any
    and every agitation or undertaking to obtain their rights, or
    an instalment of their rights, which may ultimately result in
    qualifying them to write the epitaph of Robert Emmet.”

It isn’t that I say it--that wasn’t a bad speech at all, at a time when
Ireland was dead or sleeping. People who write about the origin of
that particular movement called Fenianism--knowing nothing about that
speech, or about the Phœnix Society men, know nothing as to what they
write about. If the license of a little pleasantry may be given me, I
may say that several of my early-day acquaintances would often lament
that I would not bind myself to the speech-making business, to free



In these times preceding the Phœnix arrests--from 1852 to 1858--the
time of the Sadlier and Keogh Tenant Right movement, the time of the
Crimean war, and the time of the Indian mutiny, the Irish National
cause was in a swoon. But England was playing one of her tricks,
endeavoring to get the people to put trust in Parliamentary agitation
and petitions to Parliament, for the redress of their grievances. Men
who had no faith in these petitions would join in, saying, “We will try
once more; but this is to be the last.” I suppose a dozen Tenant-Right
bills have been given to Ireland since 1852; but to-day (1897), England
and England’s landlords have the right to root out the Irish people
still, and mercilessly do they exercise that right--so much so, that
the population of Ireland is two millions less to-day than it was in

When James Stephens came to Skibbereen in May, 1858, and started the
Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, we commenced to work in that line of
labor, and we were not long working, when a great change was noticeable
in the temper of the people. In the cellars, in the woods, and on
the hillsides, we had our men drilling in the night-time, and wars
and rumors of wars were on the wings of the wind. The lords and the
landlords were visibly becoming alarmed. No wonder, for their tenants
who used to flock to Tenant-Right meetings cared very little about
attending such meetings now. It has been said--it is said to-day by
some men of the cities, that the farmers were opposed to the movement.
I could not say that; I could say to the contrary, because I enrolled
into the movement many of the most influential farmers in the parishes
of Kilcoe, Aughadown, Caheragh, Drimoleague, Drinagh, Kilmacabea,
Myross and Castlehaven. Dan McCartie and Morty Moynahan, two other
“Centres” did the same. We set our eyes on the men who could carry
their districts, in case of a rising--just as England sets her eye on
the same class of men to-day, and swears them in as “New Magistrates.”
It is to counteract this Fenian work of ours that England is now giving
the “Commission of the Peace” to the sons and brothers of the men that
we had in the Fenian organization. I could here name a dozen of these
new magistrates that I met in Ireland a few years ago, whose fathers
and whose brothers were with us in the Fenian movement of thirty odd
years ago. I will not name them, as it may be said I was unwarrantably
saying something to their injury. But England knows them, and knows
with what aim she swore them into her service. She knows that Pat and
Jerrie Cullinane were in prison with me in the Phœnix time, and she
knows why it is that she makes their brother, Henry, a magistrate.
She knows that William O’Sullivan, of Kilmallock, was put to prison
by her in the Fenian times, and she knows why it is that she makes a
magistrate of his son, John, who presided at my lecture at Kilmallock
two years ago. And, sad I am to-day (July 12, ’98,) as I am reading
this proof-sheet, to read in the Irish newspapers, that John O’Sullivan
of Kilmallock died last week. English work of this kind I found all
over Ireland when I was over there lately. In the district of Belfast
I found eleven of those new magistrates whose families, thirty years
ago, gave volunteers to the Fenian movement. I do not say they are
worse Irishmen now than they were thirty years ago; but England has
sworn them into her service; has “bound them to the peace.” It is not
for love of them, or love of their race or religion she has done so.
She has done it to wean them away from the National movement, and to
paralyze that movement. “Beware of the cockatrice! trust not the wiles
of the serpent; for perfidy lurks in his folds”--So spoke the Bishop of
Ross, when the Sassenach was hanging him at Carrigadrohid. But we are
taking little heed of his advice; the Sassenach is getting the better
of us every way. I will now return to my story.

Every Sunday, Morty Moynahan, Dan McCartie and myself would drive
to some country chapel, and attend mass. After mass we got into
conversation with the trustworthy men of the place, and we generally
planted the seed of our mission there. One Sunday, going to Clonakilty,
we fell in with Father Tim Murray, of Ross, who was going to say mass
at the chapel of Lissavard. We went to mass there. We were in the
gallery. Father Tim was preaching in Irish. I was startled, as a man
sitting by me, said in a loud voice, “Anois, athair Teige, ni doith
liom gur ceart e sin”--“Now Father Tim I don’t think that’s right.”
The priest had to address him personally, and tell him he’d have to
go out in the yard to hear mass unless he held his tongue. He was a
harmless simpleton, well known in the parish. After mass, McCartie,
Moynahan and I went to Clonakilty. I had made an appointment to meet
a farmer from the country, a cousin of mine. I settled matters with
him. There are magistrates in his family now. Then, there were in the
town two of the men of ’48 we meant to call upon--John Callanan and
Maxwell Irwin. We went to John Callanan’s house, and he was not at
home; we went to Maxwell Irwin’s, and he was not at home; he had gone
to Crookhaven to attend the auction of a cargo of a shipwreck; so the
little girl told me who came to the door after I had telephoned on
the bright brass knocker outside. She was a pretty little girl, too,
about twelve years of age, with twinkling eyes, and red rosy cheeks and
coal-black hair. She is my wife to-day. Five or six years afterward, I
met Mr. Irwin’s entire family--not for their welfare, I fear, as the
boys of it found their way to prison and to exile through acquaintance
with me.

Clonakilty is twenty miles distant from Skibbereen. That visit I
made there with Dan McCartie and Morty Moynahan to start the I. R.
B. Organization was in 1858. Thirty-six years after, in 1894, I
was invited to give a lecture there. Dan O’Leary, one of the new
magistrates, presided at the lecture. He, too, died a few weeks
ago. After the lecture there was a big supper at the hotel. That
cousin of mine whom I initiated into the I. R. B. movement in 1858
sat near me at the supper table. We talked of old times of course,
but the old times are changed; one of his family is also one of the
new magistrates. In those old times the magistracy was a monopoly
in control of the Cromwellian plunderers of the Irish people, such
as the Beechers, the Townsends, the Frenches, the Hungerfords, the
Somervilles, the lords Bandon, Bantry, and Carbery, with a few of the
Irish themselves who became renegades to race and religion, and thus
came into sole possession of some of the lands of the clans--such as
the O’Donovans, the O’Gradys, the O’Briens and others, who became more
English than the English themselves. I remember old Sandy O’Driscoll,
of Skibbereen; he was a Catholic, but he had the character and the
appearance of being as big a tyrant as any Cromwellian landlord in the
barony of Carbery. That much is as much as need be said at present on
that subject.

On the subject of Fenianism I have heard many Irishmen in America speak
about the large sums of American money that were spent in organizing
the movement in Ireland, England and Scotland. I traveled these three
countries in connection with the organization of the movement from
1858 to 1865, and I can truthfully say, that in the early years of
our endeavor, “the men at home,” spent more of their own money out of
their own pockets than was contributed altogether by the whole Fenian
organization of America. Hugh Brophy, one of the Dublin “Centres”
is in Melbourne; John Kenealy, one of the Cork “Centres,” is in Los
Angeles--two extremely distant parts of the world--they will see what
I say, and they can bear testimony to the truth of my words.

Now, I’ll get out of this cross bohreen I got into, and get back
again to the main road of my story. As a funeral was passing through
Skibbereen to the Abbey graveyard one day in ’58, I saw two men whom I
thought would be great men in our movement; they were looked upon as
the leaders of the clan O’Driscoll and clan McCarthy, of the parishes
of Drinagh, Drimoleague and Caheragh. I got into the funeral procession
and talked with them the mile of the road out to the Abbey field, and
back again. We went into my house and had some dinner. In my bedroom I
pledged Corly-Batt, McCarthy-Sowney to work for the cause; somewhere
else I gave the pledge to Teige Oge O’Driscoll, of Doire-gclathach.
Each of them was about sixty years of age at the time. Teige Oge’s wife
was a McCarthy-Sowney, and Teige Oge’s sister was the wife of Finneen a
Rossa, the brother of my grandfather, Diarmad a Rossa. Then I met Teige
Oge’s eldest son, Conn, and I swore him in. Some dozen years ago I met
him in Natick or Holliston, Massachusetts, the father of a large family
of hearty sons and daughters.

The McCarthy-Sowney family are a noble Irish family; thoroughly hostile
to English rule in Ireland, however they are, or wherever they are.

If you are “on the run” from England in Ireland, no matter what you
are hunted for, you have shelter, and protection, and guardianship in
the house of a McCarthy-Sowney. Corly-Batt had a grinding mill on the
bank of the river, by the main road, between Drimoleague and Bantry;
in this mill was Johnnie O’Mahony, a grandson of his, about seventeen
years old; he swore in the grandson; and that grandson swore in all the
farmers’ sons who came to the mill with wheat and oats and barley. That
Johnnie O’Mahony is living somewhere around Boston now.

In the year 1864 I was living in Dublin, I came down to Skibbereen
on some business. As I was passing by Drimoleague--it was a fair-day
there--I went up to the fair field on the Rock, and as I got within
the field, a fight commenced. I knew all the men around, and all the
men around knew me. The two leaders of the fight were inside in the
middle of the crowd; they had a hold of each other; the sticks were up;
I rushed in; I caught hold of the two men--“Here,” said I, “this work
must stop; ’tis a shame for the whole of you to be going on this way.”
I glanced around as I spoke; the sticks were lowered, and the crowd

That was one good thing the Fenian organization did in Ireland in
its day--it in a great measure broke up the faction-fights and the
faction-parties, and got the men of both sides to come together and
work in friendly brotherhood for the Irish cause. That, as much as
anything else, greatly alarmed the English government and its agents.



In the Autumn of 1858, Patrick Mansfield Delaney and Martin Hawe were
arrested in Kilkenny, and Denis Riordan was arrested in Macroom. While
they were in jail, the Kilkenny men came in numbers into the farm of
Mr. Delaney, and harvested all the produce of the land for his family.
Denis Riordan died in America. Patrick Mansfield Delaney died in
America. I met Martin Hawe at his home in Kilkenny in the year 1894.
In those early years of my life--embracing the Tenant-Right movement,
and the start of the I. R. B. movement, the Parliamentary people were
getting up petitions to Parliament every year, everywhere, and the
speech-makers were declaiming their opinions on platform meetings.

I was young then--too young to have a voice on the platform--and
I’d often say to myself, “If I could speak on that platform, how
differently I’d speak of Ireland’s wrongs and rights!”

I am old enough to-day to speak on a platform, but the leaders of the
meetings do not want me to speak.

One of those leaders said to me a few days ago:--“Rossa: you should
have been on the platform at that meeting the other night, but if you
were called upon to speak, we could not depend on you--that you would
not say something which would destroy the purpose of the whole meeting.”

Some years ago I got a platform ticket to go to one of those meetings
in New York City, and as I was going with others in the ante-room on to
the platform, one of the ushers accosted me, and expressed a wish that
I would sit in the body of the hall. I made a note of the circumstance
in my notebook that day, and I here transcribe it:

“Tuesday, April 10, 1883. I bought a ticket from O’Neill Russell to go
to the Gaelic Irish entertainment at Steinway Hall. Then, I was given
two platform tickets and two hall tickets by one of the Irish-class men
of Clarendon Hall. I gave in one of the platform tickets, and was going
up the steps to the platform, when one of the ushers said, ‘I beg your
pardon, sir; for various reasons, I wish you would sit in the body of
the hall.’

“I make this note--to see if the world will change.”

The world hasn’t changed much during the fourteen years since I made
that note. Now I’ll go back to Ireland.

Besides killing the spirit of faction-fighting in Ireland, the Fenian
organization did another good thing--it killed the evil spirit that set
county against county, and province against province--an evil spirit
that worked mischief even in America, up to the advent of Fenianism.
But now that is all dead, and we can sing--

    Hurrah! for Munster, stout and brave,
      For Ulster, sure and steady;
    For Connaught rising from the grave,
      For Leinster, rough and ready;

    The news shall blaze from ev’ry hill
      And ring from ev’ry steeple,
    And all the land with gladness fill--
      We’re one united people.

There are, to-day, in America, many county organizations, but they do
not foster the inimical spirit of the olden time; though I would not
much mind if there was among them a little rivalry as to who or which
would do most to drive from the old land the savage enemy that rooted
them out of it.

My mind is full of little incidents connected with the start of the
movement in Ireland in 1858. We had our drillings in the woods and on
the mountains that surrounded Skibbereen. On Sunday summer evenings
our camping ground was generally on the top of Cnoc-Ouma, where
Thomas Davis must have stood one day of his life, if he saw those
hundred isles of Carbery that he wrote about in his poem, “The Sack of

    “Old Inisherkin’s crumbled fane looks like a moulting bird,
    And in a calm and sleepy swell, the ocean tide is heard.”

From no other spot but this camping ground of ours on the top of
Loughine hill could any one see the picture that the immortal Irish
poet shows in that verse of his. Next year, at the Summer Assizes
in Tralee, a revenue officer from Barlogue--a coast-guard station
between Loughine and the sea--came on the witness table when Dan
O’Sullivan-agreem was on trial, and swore, that with his spy-glass he
saw men drilling on the top of Cnoc-Ouma--Dan O’Sullivan-agreem was
not there; but we were there; and what was sworn against us was taken
as evidence to convict the Kerry man to ten years’ penal servitude, as
the charge against him was “conspiracy.” Sullivan-goula, the informer,
swore that the society Dan Agreem belonged to in Kerry, was the same
society that we belonged to in Cork, and what we did in Cork, was used
in Kerry to convict Dan Agreem, who never saw us, or knew us. Such is
English law in Ireland.

Returning with a few comrades from our midnight drill in Loriga wood
one night, a voice rustled through the trees, praying, “Buadh Dia
libh, a bhuachailidhe.”--The victory of God be with ye, boys. The
prayer came from an “Unfortunate” who had been hunted out of town by
the good-government society. She had twined herself a shelter-bohawn
in the thicket, and must have heard some of the command-words of our
drill-master. When the arrests were made, a few months after, Attorney
Everett, who was employed by the stipendiary magistrate to hunt up
evidence against us, offered her a large amount of money to swear
against us; but she spurned it; she knew nothing about drilling, or
about any one drilling in Loriga wood; and if she did, she was not
going to disgrace herself by taking blood-money.

God be good and merciful unto you Kit Cadogan, and “God’s wrath upon
the Saxon” that wrought the wreck and ruin of the millions of the men,
women, and children of my land and race.

Rumors were rife in the land, of those drillings in the woods and
mountains; the police were most active trying to find them, and the
boys played those police many tricks to harass them. The girls played
them tricks too--for the spirit of the women of Ireland was with us
in the work of organization. I have known many girls to refuse to
continue acquaintance of courtship with young men who would not join
the Society. Poor Driscoll of Kilmacabea, the Crimean soldier, comes
to my mind here. He was out of his mind. He was in the Crimean war;
he was wounded in the head, and he was discharged from the army,
with a pension of ninepence a day for twelve months. Then he became
a strolling beggarman. He was what was called an “innocent”; quite
harmless, and wouldn’t hurt or harm any one; his dress was a bundle
of tatters of various colors, with the proverbial straw “sugawn”
tying them around his body--even tying his shoes. At the side of my
residence, a stream called the Caol ran into the Ilen river. This
stream was arched over and made a kind of square on which some of
the goods of my shop would be displayed. Mary Regan was one of the
servants; she was sweeping this square one morning. Driscoll the
soldier was there, and after sweeping she began to joke Driscoll with
being discharged from the army for not knowing his drill. Driscoll
took hold of the sweeping brush, and using the handle of it for a gun,
put himself through all the military evolutions, giving himself the
words of command, etc. The police came up and stopped Driscoll from
drilling. He was an Irishman--his tongue was Irish. I was at the shop
door looking on; he came over to me after giving up the broom, and
said, “Oh Jerrie a laodh! nach truadh na bhfuilim a m’ tarbh--mar a
rithfin triotha a’s futha, a’s cathfain anairde san aor liom a’ircaibh
iad.”--“Oh! Jerrie, dear! what a pity that I am not a bull--how I’d
run through them and under them, and throw them up in the air with my
horns.” And saying that, he’d lower his head, and hump his back, as
if he was the bull running through them. There was the poor, insane
Irishman, with the instinct of sanity still alive in him against the
enemies of Ireland! Poor Driscoll! I often think of you. The Mary Regan
I speak of is living to-day in West Brighton, Staten Island--Mrs. Mary
Walsh. She had her wedding in my house.

Coming on to the end of the year 1858 the Irish newspapers were
speaking of drillings going on in the South of Ireland, and some of
the ministers of religion seemed to have caught the alarm. On that
Sunday in November when the gospel of the day tells us to “render unto
Cæsar what belongs to Cæsar, and unto God what belongs to God,” the
priest that preached the sermon in Skibbereen as much as told us we
owed allegiance to England. England’s head was on the coins I had in my
pocket, but I knew those coins did not belong to her, as well as I knew
that the lands of my people all around me that England’s land-robbers
held, did not belong to them. As this is a vexed question, that is all
I need say on the subject.

The English government in Dublin Castle had been preparing to put us
to prison, at this time. A stipendiary magistrate named Fitzmaurice
had taken up his residence in the town. He had been sent to the South
from the North of Ireland, where he had won his spurs in the English
service by trapping many Ribbonmen into prison.

At this time too there came to Skibbereen from Kerry a man named Dan
Sullivan-goula; he took lodgings at the house of a Kerry man named
Morty Downing, from whom we had rented the rooms of the Phœnix Society.
Morty had two children, and I used to see this Sullivan-goula fondling
the eldest of those children on his knee, and calling her his Kerry
pet. He at that time was swearing her father into jail. Irish history
records a similar incident in the case of the children of one of the
Sheares brothers, whom a Captain Armstrong swore to the scaffold in ’98.

Morty Moynahan had a letter from a correspondent in Kenmare who knew
Sullivan-goula, cautioning him to beware of the fellow; that he was
suspected; that he had been taken in to the organization at a fair,
by a Bantry man who did not know the bad character he had in his own
locality in Kerry; that none of his Kerry neighbors would think of
taking him as a member; and that no one knew what business he could
have in Skibbereen, only bad business. But Fitzmaurice the stipendary
had laid the plans for him, and had instructed him before he came to
Skibbereen to write to McCarthy Downing, the attorney in Skibbereen,
asking for a position of clerk in his office. Morty Moynahan was
chief clerk in McCarthy Downing’s office, and had the care of all
his letters; and when Morty got the warning letter from our Kenmare
friend he put against it the other letter of Goula’s application for
employment; and thought that that would in some measure account for
his being in town amongst us.

One morning as I was going to the newsroom in North street, I saw Goula
walking the sidewalk before me. After turning the corner from Main
street into North street, he suddenly turned around and walked back
against me. I walked on, and saw Fitzmaurice walking down against me.
Goula had seen him before I saw him, and that is why he made the sudden
turn back. A week after that, I was in Cork Jail.

During that week I had a letter from Lord Colchester, the
Postmaster-General, telling me an application I had made for the
postmastership of Skibbereen had been received by him--that the office
was not yet officially declared vacant, and when it would be declared
vacant I would hear again from him. As my readers want me to give them
a little light reading occasionally in these “Recollections” I may as
well tell how my correspondence with Lord Colchester originated.

Some day in the month of November, 1858, Owen Leonard, the postmaster,
called me in to his private office and told me that in consequence of
some mistake in the management of his business, a man was sent down
from Dublin to make an examination, and that the man advised him to
send in his resignation. He accordingly was sending on his resignation
that day. He advised me to make an application for the position;
he was sure I could get as many to back me as were necessary--the
endorsement of Deasy and McCarthy, the members for the County, and
a few others. I did not take the matter very seriously, but as it
gave me an opportunity to write something funny to one of the lords
of the land, I rhymed the following letter to Lord Colchester, the

    Most noble, influential lord,
    I hope some time you can afford
    To read a modest application--
    To grant an humble situation.
    The old postmaster of Skibbereen
    Disqualified has lately been,
    And many a strong and long petition
    Is filled to gain his lost position.
    I see each office-seeking creature:
    Him of the low, and lofty stature,
    And every idle, luckless wight
    All rushing by me as I write,
    Their pockets filled with paper white,
    Enough to tail a flying kite.
    And Alick seems in highest spirit--
    He learned, all would go by merit,
    And from his high qualification
    He’d get it, at examination.
    And this and that and th’ other wrote,
    Unto the County members, both--
    Why, just, in fact, the whole agree
    That there’s no chance at all for me.
    Ennobled, as to name and birth,
    And great your character and worth
    I know your Honor never can
    Condemn my writing as a man,
    And trust you’ll give consideration
    To this my modest application.
    Though, for support, I too could stand
    Before some good, and great and grand,
    I scorn to travel through the land
    For signatures, with hat in hand,
    Demean myself, and send my party
    To beg to Deasy and McCarthy.
    No; “starveling” first shall be my name
    Ere I will sully thus my fame,
    While I have leave to state my case
    On this, before your Lordship’s face.
    And now, my lord, to tell you all
    Relating to me--_personal_--
    Like bards of high and low degree:
    Of amative propensity;
    I married, just at twenty-one,
    Since then four years are past and gone,
    And every year that passed me o’er
    An Irishman came on my floor.
    I, with these youths, my time beguile,
    Half-idle in my domicile,
    Which in a large and central street,
    For a post office would he meet.
    I trust I’ll meet with no disaster
    Till you address me as “Postmaster.”
    Excuse, my lord, the wish most fervent
    I have to be your lordship’s servant.

Some days after I mailed that letter, I had a letter from Lord
Colchester, telling me the position was not yet officially declared
vacant, but, when it would be so declared, I would hear from him again.

I made no secret of getting that letter. Every one was sure I was
booked for the postmastership. But I never got it, and never heard from
Lord Colchester since. I suppose there was a very good reason for that;
because five days after, I was a prisoner in the hands of the law.



On the evening of December the 5th, 1858, there was an entertainment at
my house in Skibbereen in compliment to Dan McCartie, the brewer, who
was leaving town, to accept the position of brewer in some Brewery in
the County Galway. The company did not separate till about two o’clock.
I went to bed, and was soon aroused from sleep by a thundering knocking
at the hall door. When it was opened a dozen policemen rushed in and
took charge of me and of every one in the house. Then every room was
ransacked for papers, and for everything contraband of war--contraband
of peace or war, I may say. I stood in the drawing-room under arrest.
The sergeant-in-command was smashing the drawers of the chiffonier in
search of documents. My wife rushed toward him, crying out not to break
the drawers, as she would get him the keys. He rudely shoved her away.
One of the policemen near me was making a rush at him, but I caught him
and pushed him back. He was a Kerryman named Moynahan; he is not living
now, so I do him no harm by mentioning his name. Tom O’Shea was a guest
at the entertainment, he lived at the Curragh, some distance from the
town. As there was an “eerie” place at the Steam-mill Cross, on his way
home, where the “good people” used to show themselves, I told him it
was better for him to sleep in one of the rooms than to risk getting
a “puck” by traveling that road at the dead hour of the night. He was
occupying one of the bedrooms when the police ransacked the house. They
made a prisoner of him, and he was taken with us to Cork Jail, though
he never was a member of the Phœnix Society. He was simply a friend
of mine and a friend of Dan McCartie, and was at the entertainment
as such. ’Tis one of those misfortunes that come upon good people
on account of keeping bad company. Some twenty men were arrested in
Skibbereen that night. We were lodged in the police barracks till clear
day in the morning. Then, with two policemen in charge of every one of
us--every one of us handcuffed to a policeman--we were taken through
the towns of Rosscarbery and Clonakilty, to Bandon, where we arrived
about seven o’clock in the evening. We were put into the jail of Bandon
that night, and put into cells that were flooded with water. We met
here Jerrie Cullinane, Pat Cullinane, Denis O’Sullivan, and William
O’Shea, who had been arrested in Bantry that morning. Next morning we
were taken by train to the county jail in the city of Cork. We were two
weeks in this jail, without any trial or any charge of any kind being
made against us. Then, two stipendiary magistrates came into the jail,
and opened court in a room in the jail, and charged us with treason of
some kind to something belonging to England. We had McCarthy Downing
for our attorney. Sullivan-goula was there to swear that we belonged to
the Phœnix society; that he saw us in the rooms of the society, and
that he saw me drilling three hundred men out near the New bridge one
night. He never saw such a drilling; there never was such a drilling
took place; he never saw a drilling of any kind amongst us anywhere.
’Tis true, that he saw many of us at the rooms of the Phœnix Society,
for he was lodging in the house where those rooms were. We, having
word from Kenmare, that he was a suspicious character, and maybe sent
among us as an English spy, went in some numbers to the rooms that
night, out of curiosity, to see him. We told Morty Downing to bring
him in to the room, that we may have some talk with him. In his sworn
information against us, he swore against every man that was in the room
that night--swore that they were all among the three hundred men that I
was drilling out at the New bridge that same night. He didn’t leave a
single one of the company escape, that would be able to contradict his
perjury. Fitzmaurice, the stipendiary magistrate, knew well that he was
swearing falsely. In fact, it was Fitzmaurice that made the swearing
for him; and made the plot for him. Davis, the stipendiary magistrate,
knew well he was swearing falsely; Davis belonged to Roscommon, and
seemed to have more of a conscience than Fitzmaurice, for he used to
occasionally address Goula, when McCarthy Downing was cross examining
him, and say “Oh, you unfortunate man! Remember you are testifying on
your oath before your God;” but ’twas all to no use; Goula went along
with his perjuries. Sir Matthew Barrington, the Crown Prosecutor, was
down from Dublin to assist Goula in this star-chamber prosecution.
To provide some kind of testimony that would make a corroboration of
Goula’s testimony, he put on the witness table one of the Skibbereen
policemen, who swore that he saw Denis Downing marching through North
street, Skibbereen “with a military step.” In the cross-examination of
this policeman, our attorney asked him, “Who was walking _with_ Denis
Downing?” The policeman said, “No one was walking with him, but he was
stepping out like a soldier.” And so he was a soldier--by nature and
instinct--as many an Irishman is; he is the Captain Denis Downing who
lost a leg at the battle of Gettysburg in America, and who had charge
of the military company that were present at the execution of Mrs.
Suratt in Washington, America. He was released from Cork Jail that day
of the examination there; but his brother Patrick--who afterward came
to be in command of the Forty second (Tammany) Regiment in the American
war--was detained in jail till an appeal was made to the Queen’s Bench
for his release on bail. About half the number arrested in Bantry and
Skibbereen were so released at this first examination in Cork Jail.
The other half were kept in prison, and would not be released on bail.
Then, an application for “release on bail” was made to the Court of
Queen’s Bench in Dublin, and all were released, except Billy O’Shea,
Morty Moynahan, and myself.

The Tralee Assizes came on in March, 1859, and Dan O’Sullivan-agreem
was convicted and sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude. The Cork
Assizes came on a week afterward. Our attorney came to us in Cork Jail
and told us that if we allowed our counsel to put in a plea of “guilty”
we would be released without any sentence of punishment being passed
against us. “Plead guilty!” said we, “and confirm the sentence on Dan
Agreem, and put the stamp of truth on all the perjuries Sullivan-goula
swore against us! No, we would not do it.”

Patrick’s Day came on; it was the day the Assizes opened in Cork.
Morty Moynahan, Billy O’Shea and I were placed in the dock. Patrick
J. Downing and others who were out on bail were put in the dock too.
Patrick was telling us he had a grand time of it last night down at
Cove, in company with Poeri, and other Italians, who had escaped from
a convict ship in which they were being transported to a penal colony.
Those are the Italian convicts about whose prison treatment England’s
prime minister Gladstone shed rivers of tears--that same prime boy who
afterward treated Irishmen in England’s prisons far worse than King
Bomba treated Poeri and his companions. Gladstone starved me till my
flesh was rotting, for want of nourishment; Gladstone chained me with
my hands behind my back, for thirty-five days at a time; Gladstone
leaped upon my chest, while I lay on the flat of my back in a black
hole cell of his prison. Poeri didn’t experience such treatment as that
in the Italian prisons. Yet the great Englishman could cry out his eyes
for him. No wonder those eyes of his got sore in the end!

       *       *       *       *       *

(This chapter of my “Recollections” was published in the _United
Irishman_ newspaper of May 8, 1897. I am, this fourth day of June,
1898, revising all the chapters for publication into book form. The
telegrams of the day announce that this Mr. Gladstone was buried in
London this week--Rossa.)

       *       *       *       *       *

That Patrick’s Day, in the dock in Cork Jail, I was ready for trial;
my companions were ready for trial; we had our witnesses ready; the
people of my house were in court, to swear truly that I was in and
around my house the hour Goula swore he saw me drilling 300 men one
night. Our counsel also declared they were ready for trial. The Crown
Counsel whispered with Keogh, and then Keogh announced that our trial
was postponed to the next assizes; that the prisoners who were out on
bail could remain out on bail; but that the prisoners who were brought
into the dock from the jail, should be taken back to jail. Bail was
offered for us by our counsel, but no bail would be taken. Morty
Moynahan, Billy O’Shea, and I were taken back to the County Jail, where
we remained till the following July.

A second application for release on bail was made for us to the court
of Queen’s Bench, in April, but it was refused. The Tory ministry,
under Lord Derby as prime minister, were then in office. They were
outvoted in parliament on some division; they “made an appeal to the
country,” and there was a general election. I was a voter of the
County Cork, and I took it into my head to write to the English Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland in Dublin Castle, telling him it was against the
Constitution to hold an innocent voter in jail at such an important
crisis, and keep him from recording his vote on election day; that
English law proclaims every man innocent until he is adjudged guilty. I
told him he could have me taken to Skibbereen in charge of his jailers,
to record my vote on election day, or let me out on parole that day, to
return to jail the second next day. I haven’t that letter in my head.
It was published in the newspapers afterward. The London _Spectator_
wrote a leading article about it. When I was in London in 1895, I went
into the _Spectator_ office and bought a copy of the paper of the date
of May 14, 1859. The following is the article it contains:

                       “THE GENEROUS PRISONER.”

    For a genuine love of freedom commend us to the Irish
    gentleman (we should not like to apply any lower title,) who
    being imprisoned in the county jail of Cork on a charge of
    sedition,--he was a member of the Phœnix Society--wished,
    nevertheless, being an elector, to record his vote at the late
    county election. He addressed a petition to the Lord Lieutenant
    to this effect, and it certainly is a prize specimen of prison
    literature. We must premise that Jeremiah O’Donovan--for this
    is his highborn name--is not a convicted prisoner; he is
    waiting for trial. He thus argues his case, in a letter dated:

                                     “COUNTY JAIL, CORK, April 30th.

        “Need I remind your lordship how unconstitutional it
        would be to deprive an innocent man of his voice in this
        important crisis; and, such a deprivation of right may
        entail the most disastrous results. For instance, my lord,
        my support may be instrumental in returning an honorable
        and independent man to the Imperial Parliament; the support
        of this honorable and independent man may be instrumental
        in maintaining Lord Derby in office, and the retention of
        Lord Derby in office may be the means of preventing the
        shedding of oceans of blood, by affording him time and
        opportunity for bringing the troublous affairs of Europe
        to a speedy and pacific termination; whereas, opposite and
        most disastrous results may follow from my inability to
        attend the polls.”

        He adds, with the most clinching logic:--“Your lordship
        will perceive at a glance that mine is no ordinary case.”
        In counting up the Liberal and Derbyite gains and losses,
        we must admit at least that Lord Derby, through adverse
        circumstances, lost one ardent supporter, and if a war
        follows his lordship’s resignation, we shall remember this
        new prophet Jeremiah. How pleasantly the captive insinuates
        the excellent use he will make of his vote, as the
        prisoner at Norfolk Island, asking for the removal of the
        prohibition against talking, said to the Governor, “Double
        if you will the chains on our legs; increase the amount of
        our daily work; reduce our rations even below the present
        minimum, but do not, at least, deprive us of the power of
        confessing to one another the justice of the punishment we
        undergo.” “Transport me if you will for sedition,” cries
        O’Donovan, “but let me at least give one vote for Lord

        Blanqui, the imprisoned Republican, was released by
        Napoleon, because he uttered generous sentiments; in
        this country, we fear that even this good Tory must
        be tried, but at least he ought to be defended by Mr.
        Philip Rose, and his counsel feed out of the Carlton Club
        fund. He admits in the latter part of the letter, that
        an application for bail is pending, and that the Lord
        Lieutenant may, therefore, not like to interfere, but he
        continues with a kind considerateness that might hardly
        have been expected--

        “Granting me permission would be much more convenient than
        the postponement of the election. Skibbereen is my polling
        place, so, as the distance is fifty miles from here, your
        Lordship will please have the “pass” made out for not less
        than three days, as it is a day’s journey. To prevent
        any unnecessary trouble on my account, I will require no
        guard; my parole to return in three days, or for the time
        specified, will, I am sure, be sufficient guarantee for my
        safe keeping.”

    The Lord Lieutenant “has no power to comply with the petition.”
    Such was the substance of the grave official reply. Red
    tape cannot laugh; but we feel kindly toward the pleasant
    fellow, light-hearted enough to poke fun at a viceroy from
    behind prison bars. We hope he will be proved innocent, and
    thus record his vote at the next county election as a real

“Light-hearted enough to poke fun at a viceroy from behind prison
bars,” says the London man. Well, I did try to keep a light heart
through all my prison days and nights. I got into my head, from one
of the books in that library of my boyhood, that “that head is not
properly constituted that cannot accustom itself to whatever pillow the
vicissitudes of fortune may place under it.” My pillow was hard enough
many times, and it was sometimes made a little harder by reproofs from
some of my companions for not behaving myself more gravely in penal
servitude. But I carried myself through those hard times more in the
spirit of that poet, who sang:

    “Let me play the fool
      With mirth and laughter, so let wrinkles come
      And let my visage rather heat with wine
    That my heart cool with mortifying groans.
      Why should a man whose blood is warm within
      Sit like his grandsire, cut in alabaster
    Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice, by growing peevish!

      “I tell thee what, ‘O’Leary!’
    There are a class of men
      Whose very visages do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
    And do a wilful stillness entertain,
      On purpose to be dressed in an opinion
    Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
      As who should say: ‘I am Sir Oracle,’
    And when I ope’ my mouth, let no dog bark.”

And, to the fact that I did carry myself that way, under
prison difficulties, and have carried myself so, under worldly
difficulties--almost as harassing as the prison ones--do I, under
Providence, attribute my good fortune that I am not entirely
bald-headed at the present time.

The Cork summer assizes were coming on at the end of July. Our
attorney was not sure that we would be tried then either, or let out
on bail, but might be kept in prison till March, 1860, if we did not
satisfy the now “liberal” government, and plead guilty. This again, we
positively refused to do. A member of this new liberal government was
Thomas O’Hagan who defended Dan O’Sullivan-agreem, at the March Assizes
in Tralee, and who afterward was raised to the peerage, with the title
of “lord” or “baron” of Tullyhogue. He had had briefs for our defence,
and he knew well that most of what was sworn against us was false. But
he was now sworn in to work for England, and he should do his duty.
It was before him Captain Mackey was tried in Cork City some years
after. Our Irish parliamentary patriots affect to believe that it is
better for the Irish people to be governed by English Liberals than by
English Tories, but there is very little difference between them, so
far as Ireland is concerned. Daniel O’Connell said that the Whigs were
Tories when in office, and the Tories were Whigs when out of office.
Dan was right. John Mitchel was right, too, in his dislike of having
his friend, Thos. Francis Meagher run for member of Parliament in his
native city of Waterford. This is what he says on the matter in his
“Last Conquest of Ireland:”

“If Mr. Meagher were in Parliament, men’s eyes would be attracted
hither once more; some hope of justice might again revive in this too
easily deluded people. The nobler his genius, the more earnest his
zeal, the more conspicuous his patriotism, just the more mischief would
he do, in propping up through another session, perhaps through another
famine, the miserable delusion of a Parliamentary party.”

Those expressions of men who moved in Irish national politics fifty
years ago, and a hundred years ago hold good to-day. I have them in
mind when I hear Irishmen talking of the great good it is to send good
men to that London parliament.

In July, 1859, I got this letter from our attorney, McCarthy Downing:


                                                          July 2, 1859.

    DEAR SIR--A proposition has been again made to me, that
    if you all plead guilty, you will be released on your own
    recognizances. I am not at liberty to use this yet; but I have
    replied to say, that you have before rejected a similar offer
    from the late government, and that you would do the same now.
    Either on Saturday or Monday some decision will be come to. I
    have little hope of your being admitted to bail.

        Yours truly,

                                                      MCCARTHY DOWNING.

I have the original of that letter, in the handwriting of Mr. Downing
in my possession. When I visited America in May, 1863, I brought all my
Fenian letters with me. When I was returning to Ireland in August, ’63,
I left those letters with John O’Mahony. When I came to America from
English prisons in 1871, I got them back from him. That is how I am
able to produce this letter now, and many other Irish letters.

A few days before the opening of the Cork Assizes Mr. Downing visited
us in prison and told us that he had made terms for the release of the
Kerry man by our pleading guilty. We told him it was a disgraceful
thing to do, anyway. He thought we should not consider ourselves better
patriots than Arthur O’Connor, and Thomas Addis Emmet, and Doctor
McNevin, and the other ’98 men who pleaded guilty. He told us he would
call up to the jail to-morrow again, and, in the meantime, we could
talk the matter over among ourselves.

When he left us, Morty Moynahan, William O’Shea, and I discussed the
subject. They are dead. I will, in justice to their memory, say, that
they left the decision to me; they were willing to do what I decided to
do--to stay in jail or get out of jail.

My business in Skibbereen was ruined; the creditors came down on the
house after my arrest; the ownership of the house got into law; the
landlord whom I had it rented from got beaten in the lawsuit, and
the other man, Carey, was declared the rightful owner. He had to get
immediate possession; and my wife, with four young children, had to
move into another house. Letters from friends and neighbors were
telling me it was not a proper thing for me to remain in jail under
such circumstances--while I could get out of jail if I wished.

But I had the cause of Ireland in my mind as well, and to do anything
that would hurt or injure that cause anyway was not in my mind to do.

On that side of the situation, the Cork City men, William O’Carroll
and others who were in communication with us, gave us to understand
that James Stephens had left Ireland after our arrest, that he was in
France, that no word was received from him, that the work seemed dead,
and that we may as well accept the terms of release that were offered
us. I have read the “Memoirs of Fenianism,” by Mr. John O’Leary. He
says word was sent to us _not_ to plead guilty. I can say, and say
truly, that no such word ever reached us, and that we were obliged to
conclude that the work, or the cause for which we were put in jail,
was dead or deserted. So, we decided to accept the terms of release
offered, and we were let out of prison on the 27th of July, 1859.

It was three months after, before Dan O’Sullivan-agreem was released,
and not until I had written a strong letter to McCarthy Downing,
telling him I would write a letter to the newspapers charging the
government with another “breach of treaty” in keeping the man in prison
for whose release we had stipulated.

Looking over some books and papers connected with the terms of release
made by the ’98 men, I see there was a breach of treaty in their case
also. They stipulated for the release of many men who were arrested
in March and April, 1798--before the “Rising.” And, after signing the
papers, some of those men were hanged, and more of them were kept in
prison until the year 1802.

Looking over the books and papers concerning the ’98 times, and the
books and papers concerning our own times, I do not see much change in
the spirit of England and Englishmen regarding Ireland and Irishmen.
Those who are reading what I am writing will not, I hope, consider I
am doing much amiss in embodying in “Rossa’s Recollections,” some of
the experiences of Irishmen who were fighting against English rule
in Ireland a hundred years ago, and comparing England’s treachery
and duplicity a hundred years ago, with her tyranny, treachery and
duplicity to-day. I find myself much in feeling with William Sampson,
one of the ’98 men, when he says, “If a man be injured, you add to
his injuries by extorting false protestations from him, which must
aggravate his feeling or wound his honor.”

Those words from the grave strike the chords that hold me in life.
England’s holding me in prison from assizes to assizes, and not
releasing me until I would acknowledge as true the perjuries that were
sworn against me, has planted in my nature an ineradicable desire for
personal satisfaction, and “If I could grasp the fires of hell to-day,
I would seize them and hurl them into the face of my country’s enemy.”
These words are the words of John Mitchel.

William Sampson of Antrim, arrested on the 12th of February, ’98, in
his “Memoirs” says:

“After several months of cruel and secret imprisonment, a Mr. Crawford,
an attorney, was first permitted to break the spell of solitude, and
enter my prison door. This gentleman had been employed in defence of
Mr. Bond, Mr. Byrne, and others, for whose fate I was much interested.”

At the time of that visit the rising had taken place and the fight
was going on. From all the information the prisoners were allowed to
get, they were led to believe that their people were getting the worst
of it; that aid which they expected had not come; that to continue
the fight was useless. The paper presented to them to sign, amounted
to an advice to the insurgents to submit and give up their arms, on
stipulation of general amnesty and the release of some seventy men who
were in prison on charges of high treason.

Sampson says, “Upwards of seventy prisoners, against whom no evidence
appeared, had signed an act of self-devotion, and peace was likely
to be the result.… One day, as we were all together in the yard of
the bridewell, it was announced that the scaffold was erected for the
execution of William Byrne, the preservation of whose life had been
a principal motive for the signature of many of the prisoners to the

That was the famed Billy Byrne, of Ballymanus.

Sampson, after making some bitter remarks on the tyranny that will
imprison an innocent man, and keep him in prison until he will sign a
paper saying his jailers were justified in doing all they did, says:

“If a man be injured, and knows and feels it, you only add to his
injuries by extorting false protestations from him, which must
aggravate his feeling or wound his honor.”

This book of Sampson’s that I am quoting from was printed by George
Forman, at No. 24 Water street, Old Slip, New York, in the year 1807.
I have also before me, as I write, the Dublin _United Ireland_, paper
of May 8, 1897, and I see in it the following passage that bears on the
subject of this chapter:

“It may not be generally known that the United States Minister to
London in 1798, was guilty, in conjunction with his government, of
one of the meanest pieces of servility ever placed to the account of
any plenipotentiary or diplomatist. When Arthur O’Connor, Thomas Addis
Emmet, Dr. McNevin, and the rest of the United Irish Leaders, who
had brought the Pitt Ministry to terms which honorably secured their
lives, were about to be released on condition of departing to America,
an extraordinary obstacle presented itself. Rufus King, the American
Minister, waited on the English Ministry, and declared on behalf of his
government that the United States could not consent to receive upon its
soil men who had instigated the recent dreadful rebellion in Ireland!!

“In consequence of this action by these Anti-Irish Yankees, the United
Irish Leaders, instead of being immediately released, were detained in
confinement in Scotland, in Fort George, until the year 1802.”

It is surprising how, even up to the present day, England can fashion
into instruments of meanness and servility the kind of men that
America sends to represent her in London. The one enemy in the world
that America has is England. But then, England is the great land of
Christian civilization, and it may not be a thing to be much wondered
at that our Americans whom we send to represent us in London become in
a short time somewhat civilized, and learn to love those who hate them,
bless those that curse them, and do good to those that persecute and
calumniate them. All very well, so long as that civilizing influence
is confined to England and to our representatives to the government
of England; but when that influence creeps into the government of
America, it is quite another thing.

This telegram from the seat of government that appeared in the morning
papers of New York this day I am writing, shows it is creeping in;--

WASHINGTON, May 26.--The approach of the Victorian Jubilee served as
the theme for an eloquent invocation to-day by the blind chaplain of
the Senate, Rev. Dr. Milburn.

“The long and illustrious reign of the gracious lady, Victoria, wife,
mother, as well as sovereign,” he said, “has shrined her into the
hearts and reverence of true-hearted men and women around the world.

“May her last days be her best and happiest. Guide the councils of
that realm and of our own beloved country, that, hand in hand, they
may tread the path of conservative progress to the goal of Christian

Of toadyism of that kind, and of the kind that is introduced into the
public schools of New York City in getting little children to vote to
send their teachers to the Queen of England’s jubilee celebration, the
New York _Sun_ says:

“Every American citizen who subscribes to the proposed preposterous
tribute to Queen Victoria should be a marked man. His should be the
fate of those Tories of the revolutionary epoch, who, for the betrayal
of their country and shameful subservience to George III., were
branded, ostracized, and eventually hounded out of their native land.”



Coming on the year 1860, the men of Skibbereen took up the threads of
the organization that were let slip through the arrest of the Phœnix
men in ’58. We met James Stephens in Bantry, and Mr. Dan McCartie,
Morty Moynahan, and I, with the Bantry men, Denis and William
O’Sullivan, Pat, Jerrie and Michael Cullinane, and some others, went
in Denis O’Sullivan’s yacht to Glengarriffe, where we had dinner at
Eccles’ Hotel. Stephens paid for the dinner. Sailing through Bantry
bay, Stephens was smoking a pipe. I remember his taking the pipe in his
hand, and saying he would not give the value of that dudeen for the
worth of Ireland to England after the death of Queen Victoria; that
she, in fact, would be the last English reigning monarch of Ireland.

I don’t know if he is of that opinion to-day. I do not know did he
speak that way that day in Bantry bay, from the strong faith he had in
the success of his own movement. Anyway, the way he always spoke to his
men seemed to give them confidence that he was able to go successfully
through the work that was before him, and before them. That was one of
his strong points, as an organizer.

About the beginning of the year 1861, a letter from Jas. O’Mahony,
of Bandon, announced to us that he and John O’Mahony would be in
Rosscarbery on a certain day. Dan McCartie, Morty Moynahan and I
went to Ross in Moynahan’s coach. We met them; they had come to town
in Banconi’s long car. James O’Mahony returned to Bandon, and John
O’Mahony came on to Skibbereen in our coach. He remained in town a few
days. We called in from the country some of the most active workers we
had in the organization, and introduced them to him. He was very much
taken with the McCarthy-Sowney Centre, who told him he would not be
satisfied with getting back his lands from the English, without getting
back also the back rents that the robber-landlords had been drawing
from his people for the past two hundred years.

That was the first time I met John O’Mahony. He made the impression on
me that he was a man proud of his name and of his race. And I liked him
for that. I like to see an Irishman proud of his people. It is seldom
you will find such a man doing anything that would disgrace any one
belonging to him. In my work of organizing in Ireland, I felt myself
perfectly safe in dealing with men who were proud--no matter how poor
they were--of belonging to the “Old Stock.” I trusted them, and would
trust them again.

Three years ago, in the summer of 1894, I was traveling with Michael
Cusack, John Sarsfield Casey (since dead), and some others, by the
Galtee Mountains, from Mitchelstown to Knocklong. We stopped at a
village called Kilbehenny. We strolled into the graveyard, and there I
saw a large tomb, on the top slab of which were cut the words:


That was the tomb of John O’Mahony’s family. Some days after, I stood
within the walls of the ruins of Muckross Abbey in Killarney, and there
I saw another tomb (just like the one in Kilbehenny) on which were
graven the words:


That was the tomb of the family of the O’Donoghue of the Glens. That
showed me that in old Irish times John O’Mahony’s family had the same
standing among the people as the other family. In those graveyards, I
thought of that Shane O’Neill of Tyrone who, when offered an English
title, said he was prouder of the title of “The O’Neill” than of any
title England could give him.

In the year 1861 came on the funeral of Terence Bellew McManus in
Ireland. He was one of the ’48 men who died in San Francisco. His body
was brought to Ireland. I had a letter from James Stephens asking me to
be one of the delegation who would accompany the remains from Cork to

The funeral procession in Cork City was on a Sunday. There was an
immense gathering of people. Passing along the quay, a ship in the
river was flying the English flag, and a little boy caused a little
commotion by running and clambering up the ship’s ropes and poles, and
tearing down that flag.

Coming on nightfall we were on board the train for Dublin. The
delegation having charge of the coffin were in the train compartment
next to the coffin. We were armed with pistols, as it was rumored
that there might be some necessity for using them. Some men were, it
seems, in favor of making the funeral the occasion of a “rising”;
they thought it would arouse the country if the remains were taken to
Slievenamon or some such historic place on the way between Cork and
Dublin, and the people called upon to rally around, for God and for
country. James Stephens was averse to that being done, and this is why
he thought it well to have an armed guard to prevent its being done. I
saw, a few nights after, that one of the men who favored the project,
was James Roche, of Monaghan, who came from New York to Ireland the
time of the funeral. The delegation from America and some others went
to the Shelburne Hotel in Dublin to see William Smith O’Brien on some
matter. Smith O’Brien was not in when we called. We were waiting in the
coffee-room; the subject of the “rising” came to be spoken of, Maurice
O’Donoghue, of Kilmallock, one of the Dublin Centres, charged James
Roche with being the prime mover in the project of the “rising.” Hot
words passed between them. Maurice moved angrily toward Roche; Roche
drew a cane sword. Some of us rushed between the two angry men, and
matters were soon quieted down.

But on the railway route between Cork and Dublin, something occurred
that I may make note of. When the train came to the Limerick Junction,
there was a stop there of several minutes. A large crowd was on the
platform. If there was an attempt to be made anywhere to take away the
body, it was thought that would be the place most likely for it. James
Stephens was in the coach with us. He had previously given orders that
the men of Tipperary town be there to prevent such a thing being done.
As the premonitory bell rang for the starting of the train, Stephens
called on the men to kneel down and say a Pater and Ave for the dead;
and, while the whole crowd was on their knees, the train rolled out
from the depot.

Arriving in Dublin before daybreak, the city seemed ablaze with
torch lights. The remains of McManus were taken in procession to the
Mechanic’s Institute, where they lay in state until the following
Sunday, when, by a public funeral they were laid to rest in Glasnevin.

During this week in Dublin I attended a banquet given to Colonel Smith,
Colonel O’Reilly, Colonel Doheny, Michael Cavanagh, Jerrie Cavanagh,
and Captain Frank Welpley, the members of the American delegation,
and I called upon some friends I had been in correspondence with. The
dinner had been at Coffey’s or Carey’s Hotel in Bridge street. Father
Conway, of Mayo, who was staying at the hotel, attended it. When the
toasts and speech-making commenced, he was called upon to speak. He
spoke of the sad state of his part of the country, and said that he was
then traveling on a mission to collect funds for some parishioners of
his who were under sentence of eviction--dwelling particularly upon one
case, that of a man and his wife who had eight young children. “Put my
name down for ten pounds,” said Michael Doheny. The priest taking his
notebook, commenced to write. “Hold,” said Doheny. “The ten pounds is
to buy a gun, powder and ball for the man who is to be evicted, that he
may shoot whoever comes to put him out of his house.” The priest shut
up his notebook.

I had been for five or six years previously in correspondence with
Professor John O’Donovan, the Irish scholar, and I called in to Trinity
College to see him. In the room with him was Professor Eugene O’Curry.
I had a long talk with them. John O’Donovan asked me to tea next night
at his home, No. 136 North Buckingham street; “and you,” said he to
O’Curry, “you try and come up.” “No,” said O’Curry, “but let Rossa come
to my house the night after.” I told him I would not be in Dublin the
night after, as I should leave for home. O’Curry was a big, stout man,
over six feet tall. O’Donovan was a small man. Those two men were dead,
one year after that day I was speaking to them. They were married to
two sisters of the name of Broughton--“of Cromwellian descent,” as John
O’Donovan says to me in one of his letters, wherein he speaks of the
mother of his seven sons--Mary Anne Broughton.

I went to John O’Donovan’s house that evening, and met there Father
Meehan, the author of that book called “The Confederation of Kilkenny.”
We talked of Fenianism, or of the cause for which I had been lately
in Cork Jail. I, as well as I could, justified my belonging to that
cause--not that my host or the priest said anything in condemnation
of the cause--but I was surprised when I heard John O’Donovan say in
the priest’s presence--“_the priests won’t let the people fight_.” The
priest said nothing.

About twelve o’clock a coach came to take him home. I went in the coach
with him, and he let me down at my hotel in Lower Bridge street. His
chapel in the parish of Sts. Michael and John is near that street.

I had been at John O’Donovan’s house on some other occasions on which
I visited Dublin before this time of the McManus funeral. The seven
sons would be around us. He would send John and Edmond to the library
to bring some rare Irish books to show me. “Are those boys studying
the Irish language?” said I. “No,” said he. “I cannot get them to care
anything about it, though they are smart enough at Greek and Latin.” I
fear that my early acquaintanceship with those boys had something to
do with disturbing the serenity of their lives in after years; because
when I came to live in Dublin in 1863 I used to visit their house, and
they used to come to the _Irish People_ office to see me. They got
initiated into the I. R. B. movement, and got into prison the time of
the arrests. John, the eldest was drowned in St. Louis; Edmond, the
second, the famed war correspondent, was lost in Asia or Africa; and I
saw William, the third son, buried in Calvary Cemetery, New York.

I have among my papers twenty or thirty of the letters of John
O’Donovan, that I received from him between the years of 1853 and 1863.
They are among my old papers. I cannot get them now. I may get them
before I put these “Recollections” in book form. If I do, I will print
a few of them in the book. One letter in particular has some passages
in it that I cannot thoroughly understand. It speaks of the Irish
people and the Irish cause; of Daniel O’Connell and of Doctor Doyle,
and it says:

“There have been no two Irishmen of this century that despised the
Irish race and the Irish character more than did Daniel O’Connell and
the late Doctor Doyle, bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. Doctor Miley, in
whose hands O’Connell died, told me this at _this_ table, and I firmly
believe it.”

Now, the puzzle to me is: Why was that so? Why did they despise the
Irish race and the Irish character? I make many guesses at answering
the question, and the only answer reasonable to myself, that I can get,
is, that the Irish people made it a sin to themselves to do anything
that could be done in the way of striking down English rule, and
striking down everything and every one that belonged to English rule in

The McManus funeral tended very much to increase the strength of the
Fenian movement. Men from Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connaught
met in Dublin who never met each other before. They talked of the
old cause, and of the national spirit in their respective provinces,
and each went back to his home, strengthened for more vigorous work.
England’s eyes were somewhat opened, too, to the increasing danger to
her rule in Ireland, and shaped herself accordingly. In the policy
of government she is not blind to what passes before her eyes, she
knows how averse to the interests of her rule it is to allow the
people to come together and understand each other, and hence, those
many Convention or anti-Convention laws that she passed for Ireland
in her day. In the days of the _United Irishmen_, secret committees
of the Houses of Lords and Commons were appointed to make inquiries
into the state of Ireland. A committee of the Lords sat in 1793, and a
joint committee of Lords and Commons sat in 1897. They summoned before
them every one they thought could give information, and every one who
refused to answer their questions was sent to jail.

On the 17th of May, 1797, the English governors at Dublin Castle issued
a proclamation in which they said: “Whereas, within this Kingdom a
seditious and traitorous conspiracy, by a number of persons styling
themselves United Irishmen exists, and whereas, for the execution of
their wicked designs, they have planned means of open violence, and
formed secret arrangement for raising, arming, and paying a disciplined
force, and, in furtherance of their purposes, have frequently assembled
in great and unusual numbers, under the colorable pretext of planting
or digging potatoes, attending funerals and the like,” etc. “And we
do strictly forewarn persons from meeting in any unusual numbers,
under the plausible or colorable pretext as aforesaid, or any other

So, that while James Stephens, for his side of the house, saw the good
and the necessity of bringing his chief men together at the McManus
funeral, the other side of the house, with all the experience of
government they have on record, were pretty well able to give a good
guess at what it all meant.

Not that England doesn’t know that the mass of the Irish people are
always discontented, disaffected and rebellious--and have reasons to
be so--but that they would be organized into a body actively preparing
for fight is what strikes terror to her heart. The Irish Revolutionary
Brotherhood were so preparing, secretly preparing, but circumstances
connected with the necessity of receiving a promised or expected
assistance from America--that was not received--which circumstances I
will show further on--developed things so, that the organization soon
became as much a public one as a private one. We were assailed publicly
in many ways and by many parties, and we had to defend ourselves
publicly, and thus show ourselves to our enemies as well as to our
friends. Twenty-five years ago I wrote a book called “O’Donovan Rossa’s
Prison Life.” I see in it some passages in relation to those times of
1861, 1862 and 1863, and I cannot do better than reproduce them here.
After that, I will introduce some letters, I have, written by John
O’Mahony, James Stephens, and others, that give a very fair idea of the
difficulties that beset the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood in Ireland,
and Fenianism in America, at the starting of the movement.

Rossa’s book says:

“I found the people under the impression that if any kind of military
weapon was found with them they would be sent to jail. Is was hard to
disabuse them of this, and I took a practical method of doing it.

“I was in possession of an Enfield rifle and bayonet, a sword, and an
old Croppy pike, with a hook and hatchet on it, formidable enough to
frighten any coward, and these I hung up in a conspicuous part of my
store; and yet this would not even satisfy some that they could keep
these articles with impunity, and I had many a wise head giving me
advice. But when I have satisfied myself that a thing is right, and I
make up my mind to do it, I can listen very attentively to those who,
in kindness, would advise me, for the purpose of dissuading me from a
course inimical, perhaps, to my own interests, while at the same time
I can be firm in my resolve to have my own way as soon as my adviser
is gone. The arms remained in their place, and on fair days and market
days it was amusing to see young peasants bringing in their companions
to see the sight. “_Feuch! feuch!_ Look! look!” would be the first
exclamation on entering the shop; and never did artist survey a work
of art more composedly than would some of those boys leaning on their
elbows on the counter, admire the treasured weapons they longed to use
one day in defence of the cause of their fatherland.

“At the end of a few years the people were fully persuaded that they
could keep arms in defiance of the police. It would answer the ends of
government very well, if the authorities by keeping the people scared
could keep them unarmed without the passing of arms acts and other
repressive measures, that look so very ugly to the world. If England
could keep her face clean--if she could carry the phylacteries--if she
could have the Bible on her lips and the devil in her deeds, without
any of the devil’s work being seen, she would be in her glory.

“My pikes were doing great mischief in the community it seems, and
rumors were going around that others were getting pikes, too. Tim
Duggan, whom I spoke of as being in Cork Jail was employed in my shop.
Tim should always be employed at some mischief, and taking down the
pikes one day to take some of the rust off them, no place would satisfy
him to sit burnishing them but outside the door. This he did to annoy
a very officious sergeant-of-the-police, named Brosnahan, who was on
duty outside the store. Next day I was sent for by my friend McCarthy
Downing, who was Chairman of the Town Commissioners, and magistrate of
the town. He told me that the magistrates were after having a meeting,
and had a long talk about what occurred the day before. Brosnahan
represented that not alone was Tim Duggan cleaning the pikes, but
showing the people how they could be used with effect--what beautiful
things they were for frightening exterminating landlords and all other
tools of tyranny. Mr. Downing asked me if I would deliver up the arms,
and I said, certainly not. He said the magistrates were about to make a
report to the Castle of the matter. I said I did wot care what reports
they made; the law allowed me to hold such things, and hold them I
would while the district was not ‘proclaimed.’

“Now,” added he, “for peace sake, I ask you, as a personal favor, to
give them up to me; I will keep them for you in my own house, and I
pledge you my word that when you want them, I will give them to you.”

“Well,” replied I, “as you make so serious a matter of it, you can have

“I went home; I put the pike on my shoulder, and gave the rifle to
William (Croppy) McCarthy. It was a market day, and both of us walked
through the town, and showed the people we could carry arms, so that we
made the act of surrender as glorious as possible to our cause, and as
disagreeable as it could be to the stipendiaries of England.

“These are small things to chronicle, but it is in small things that
the enemy shows a very wary diligence to crush us. Inch by inch she
pursues us, and no spark of manhood appears anywhere in the land that
she has not recourse to her petty arts to extinguish it.

“In the spring of 1863, the Poles were struggling against their
tyranny, and we conceived the idea of having a meeting of sympathy for
them in Skibbereen, and carried it out. We prepared torchlights and
republican banners, and we issued private orders to have some of our
best men, in from the country. The authorities were getting alarmed,
and they issued orders to have a large force of police congregated in
the town on the appointed night. During the day the ‘peelers,’ as I
may inoffensively call them, were pouring in, and as they passed by
the several roads, the peasantry crowded in after them. The rumor went
around that we were to be slaughtered, and men from the country came
to see the fun. The town was full of ‘peelers’ and peasants; and, to
have another stroke at the ‘big fellows’ we got handbills stuck off,
calling upon the people not to say an offensive word to any of the
police; that they were Irishmen, like ourselves, and only obliged from
circumstances to _appear_ our enemies. We posted these bills, and got
boys to put them into the hands of police. There were six magistrates
in the town; and the stipendiary one, O’Connell--a member of the
‘Liberator’s’ family--was in command of the forces. They thought to
intimidate us from carrying out the programme of our procession, and
we felt bound to maintain the confidence of our people by proceeding
according to our announcement. They recognized in our meeting of
sympathy for the Poles a meeting of organized hostility against
England; they knew that bringing the masses together, and allowing them
to see their strength and union would create confidence, and that is
what they wanted to kill. And, to be candid, it was necessary for us to
humor the peculiarities of our people some way. They are ever ready to
fight; ever impatient for the ‘time,’ and when the time is long coming,
they are drooping and restless without stimulants.

“The officers of arrangement moved from the committee-rooms. The
committee were armed with wands, and marched in front, toward the place
where the vast assembly of people were formed in line of procession
with torches in their hands.

“The wives of the police, and the police themselves, had been sent to
the mothers of young men on the committee, telling them that the police
had orders to fire on us; and the mothers implored us, on their knees,
to give up our project. We went on; and, as we proceeded to move,
the magistrates came in front of us, with the police behind them, and
stopped the route of our march. The Castle agent O’Connell addressing
himself to Brosnahan, asked--

“Who are the leaders of this tumult?”

And the police sergeant answered--

“Here, they are sir; Dan McCartie, Mortimer Moynahan, Jerrie Crowley,
Con Callahan, O’Donovan Rossa, James O’Keefe, etc.”

O’Connell--“I order this assembly to disperse.”

Committee--“For what?”

“For it is disturbing the peace of the town.”

“It is you who are disturbing the peace of the town. We are peaceful
citizens, met here to demonstrate our sympathy for a people struggling
against tyranny. Do you say we have no right to do so, or that we must
not walk the streets?”

“You are meeting in an illegal manner; I will now read the Riot Act,
and if you do not disperse before fifteen minutes, you have only to
take the consequence.”

He read the Riot Act; after which we asked--

“What do you see illegal in our procession?”

“That red flag,” pointing to an equilateral triangle banner.

The Committee--“Take that flag down. Now, Mr. O’Connell, do you see
anything else illegal?”

O’Connell--“Those transparencies, with the mottoes.”

Committee--“Take away those transparencies. Do you see anything else
illegal, Mr. O’Connell?”

“Those torchlights.”

Committee--“Put out those torchlights. Do you see anything else

“You had better disperse.”

Committee--“Do you tell us, now, that you came here with your authority
and your armed force to tell us that we must not walk through the
streets of Skibbereen?”

“I do not.”

The committee ordered the band to play up “Garryowen” and march on. The
boys did so; the magistrates moved aside; the police behind them opened
way, and the procession marched twice through the streets, and ended
the demonstration by the reading of an address.

The marriage of England’s Prince of Wales, in ’63, came on a few nights
after we had the Polish sympathy meeting in Skibbereen, and some of the
loyal people of the town illuminated their houses. There was a public
newsroom in the “Prince of Wales’ Hotel,” and as the loyalists had paid
the proprietor seven pounds for illuminating the house, those of them
who were members of the newsroom held a private meeting, and passed a
resolution that the windows of that room be illuminated too.

So they were illuminated. But some of the committee of the Polish
procession were members of the newsroom, and when they heard that it
was aflame with loyalty, they went to the room; called a meeting;
pointed to one of the rules which excluded politics from the place, and
denounced those who held a hole-and-corner meeting to introduce them
there that day. A crowd was outside the hotel listening to the fight
inside; they cheered and groaned, according as the several speakers
spoke. One of the loyalists inside said it was “a mob meeting” they had
in the room. “Then we may as well have mob law,” said I, and making
for the windows, I tore down the transparencies, the fil-dols and the
English flags, and threw them into the street.

The I. R. B. movement generated a spirit of manhood in the land that
the enemy could not crush, and cannot crush, if we do not prove
ourselves dastards. Acts of hostility, similar to those I speak of,
were occurring everywhere; and if the people only had arms to back
their spirit, they would do something worthy of them.

The Gladstones know this, and use all their ingenuity to keep the
dangerous weapons from the people, “lest,” as one of them said lately,
“the people would hurt themselves.” But, “beg, borrow or steal” them,
we must have arms before we can have our own again.

After those occurrences in Skibbereen, the Stipendiary Magistrate
O’Connell, and Potter, the Police Inspector, came to me, and said
they had instructions to give me notice that if I “did not cease from
disturbing the community,” I would be called up for sentence, pursuant
to the terms of my “plea of guilty.” I told them they should first show
that I violated any of those terms; that they should prove me guilty
of the practice of drilling, and of the other things sworn against me
at the time of my imprisonment; but while to their eyes I was acting
within their own law, I did not care about their threats.



Dan Hallahan, John O’Gorman, Willie O’Gorman, William McCarthy, Jerrie
O’Donovan, John Hennigan, Jerrie O’Meara and others who had charge
of the flags the night of the Polish demonstration, took them to my
house. They went up to the roof and planted them on the chimneys.
That was more high-treason. But I let the flags fly, and would not
haul them down--much to the alarm of the men of the English garrison
who had “charge of the peace” of the community. McCarthy Downing,
trying to reason me out of any rebellious propensities those days,
told me what a strong ’48 man he was--how affectionately he cherished
the possession of a green cap the ’48 men gave him when they were
“on the run,” and how he himself would be the first man to handle a
pike--if _he thought ’twould be of any use_. But with England’s strong
army and navy, it was nothing but folly for us to think we could do
anything against her wonderful power. That is the kind of talk that
is of most use to England in Ireland; particularly when it comes from
men who have the character of being patriots. And we have many such
patriots among us to-day; not alone in Ireland, but in America, and
in every other land to which the Irish race is driven--patriots who
will do anything to free Ireland but the one thing that MUST be done
before she is freed. And to say that she cannot be freed by force is
something that no manly Irishman should say--something he should not
allow a thought of to enter his mind, while he has it in his power to
grasp all these resources of war, or “resources of civilization” that
England has at her command for the subjugation of Ireland and other
nations. England knows well that Irishmen have it in their power to
bring her to her knees, if they fight her with her own weapons, and
that is why she labors so insidiously to put the brand of illegality,
infamy, and barbarity upon such instruments of war in their hands as
in her hands she calls “resources of civilization.” “England,” said
Gladstone to Parnell, “has yet in reserve for Ireland the resources of
civilization.” Ireland has such “resources” too; and, when it comes
to a fight--as come it must--the Parnells must be sure to use them in
England as the Gladstones will be sure to use them in Ireland. Then,
may there be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and blood for
blood--with an opening for Macauley’s New Zealander in London. When I
was in Ireland three years ago, I got a letter from Father John O’Brien
of Ardfield, Clonakilty, inviting me to spend some time with him in
memory of old times in Skibbereen. He was a curate in the town in my
time there. The boys in the shop told me one day that Father O’Brien
was in looking for me, and left word to have me call up to his house. I
called up; in answer to my knock on the rapper, Kittie the housekeeper
opened the door. “Kittie,” said I, “is Father O’Brien in?” “Yes,”
said he, speaking from the head of the stairs, “Is that Rossa? Come
upstairs.” I went upstairs: sat with him for two or three hours; had
lunch with him, and lots of talk upon the questions of the day. The
question of the day at that time was Fenianism, and we talked it over.
“Why is it,” said I, “that I can go to confession and get absolution,
and that Dan Hallahan and Simon Donovan and others will be turned away
from the confessional unless they give up the Society?” “Oh,” said he,
“in that matter the Church has a discretionary power which it uses
according to its judgment. The historical experience of the Church
regarding political secret societies is, that no matter how good the
purpose for which such societies are started, the control of them
generally gets into the hands of men who use them against the Church,
and not in the interest of any good purpose in the name of which young
men are drawn into them. Where we meet a man who, we think, cannot
be used against the Church, we use our discretionary power to admit
him to the sacraments; when our judgment tells us it may be proper to
advise other penitents to have nothing to do with the society, and to
discontinue membership in it, we so advise.” Then he quoted some of
the Church doctrine in those words of St. Augustine:--“In necessariis,
unitas; in non-necessariis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas.--In
essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

I do not wonder that any Irish priest would turn away from his
confessional any Irishman who would kneel at it, confessing to him as
one of his sins, that he had taken a pledge or an oath to fight as a
soldier for the freedom of his country. If I was a priest myself, I
would tell the poor slave to give up sinning. When I came home that day
after my visit to Father O’Brien, I found the whole house laughing at
me, and calling me “fool, fool.” It was the 1st of April, “Fool’s Day”
in Ireland; my people made a “fool” of me in sending me to see Father
O’Brien, for he had never been in, asking to see me. But no matter
for that; it was a pleasant visit, and the priest laughed heartily
afterward when I was telling him how I had been “fooled” into it.

One Sunday afternoon, in this month of April, 1863, I, with some of the
boys of the town, made a visit to Union Hall, a seaside village, some
four miles to the south of Skibbereen. We remained there till eleven
o’clock at night; met many men of the district, and enlivened the
place with speech, recitation and song. Next morning Kit-na-Carraiga
and a few more of the wives of the Myross fishermen came in to my
shop and told me as they were passing through Union Hall they met the
magistrate, John Limerick; that he was raging mad, and swearing that
if he caught Jerrie-na Phœnix and his crowd in Union Hall again, they
would not leave it as they left yesterday. Kit spoke in Irish, and
I said to her: “Kit! Innis do a maireach, go riaghmid sios aris de
Domhnaig seo chughain.” “Kit! tell him to-morrow that we will go down
again next Sunday.”

Next Sunday came, and we were as good as our word.

After mass, some twenty of us left the town, and broke into the
fields. We started hares and chased them with our screeching. Many of
the farmers’ sons on the way joined us, and, as we were entering Union
Hall, we had a pretty big crowd. But there was a far bigger crowd in
the village. It was full of people, because all the morning, police
had been coming in on every road from the surrounding police stations,
and the people followed the police. The threat of John Limerick, the
magistrate, had gone out, and the people came in to see what would be
the result. Five or six of the magistrates of the district had come in
too. Across the little harbor from Glandore we saw a fleet of boats
facing for Union Hall. They conveyed men from Ross, some three miles
at the other side of Glandore. As the boats approached our quay John
Limerick stood on it, and forbade them to land. “Boys,” said I, “never
mind what this man says; this is a part of Ireland, your native land,
and you have as good right to tread its soil as he has.”

With that, Pat Donovan (now in New York), jumped from his boat into the
shallow shoal water; others followed him; Limerick left the quay, and
they marched through the village, with their band playing, up to the
house of Father Kingston.

Limerick gave orders to close all the public houses in the village. I
was in at the house of Mrs. Collins, an aunt-in-law of mine, when the
police came in, with orders to clear the house. “If you tell me to go
out,” said I to Mrs. Collins, “I will go out.” “I won’t turn you out of
my house,” said she. “If you put your hands on me, and tell me to leave
this house,” said I to Sergeant William Curran, or to Dockery (who now
keeps a hotel in Queenstown), “I will leave it.” “I won’t put my hand
on you,” said the policeman; “my orders are to have Mrs. Collins clear
the house, and I can’t do more.” The police went out; I and my friends
went out after them, telling Mrs. Collins it was better for her to
close up, for Limerick was lord of the manor, and lord of her license
to keep house.

The police in the street arrested Patrick Donovan. Some girls named
Dillon, first cousins of his, snatched him away from the police and
rushed him into their house. John Limerick read the Riot Act. Potter,
the Chief of Police gave the order of “fix bayonets,” et cetera. The
women in the windows, at each side of the street, were screaming in
alarm. Patrick Spillane, the Master-instructor of the Skibbereen band
(now in Rochester, N. Y.), stood up in his carriage and addressed the
people, denouncing the village tyranny they were witnessing; Dan.
O’Donoghue, one of the bandsmen (a Protestant), in a scuffle with a
policeman, broke his trombone. I asked Potter, the Chief of Police,
what did he mean to do now, with his drawn swords and fixed bayonets?
He said he meant to quell this riot. I told him there was no riot but
what was made by Mr. Limerick.

Five or six other magistrates were there. I knew Doctor Somerville and
John Sidney Townsend. I got talking to them; they told me to go home.
I told them I would stay at home that day only that threats from John
Limerick had been coming to my house all the week that if I set my
foot in Union Hall again it would be worse for me.

Things gradually quieted down; the police were ordered off the ground,
and peace was restored. There were lots of summonses next day; McCarthy
Downing was employed for our defence, and some fines were adjudged
against a few of the people. But that was not the worst of it. Many
of them who filled situations lost their places. A few national
schoolmasters, who were in the village that day were suspended, and did
not teach school in Ireland since. One of them was John O’Driscoll, who
died in Boston a few years ago.

A few days after this Union Hall affair I called into the Beecher Arms
Hotel in Skibbereen and met John Sydney Townsend. We talked of the
affair of the previous Sunday. I said affairs had come to a queer pass
when an Irishman, in his own country, would be forbidden to tread its
soil. Why, said I, if you yourself were in a foreign land, and if any
one insulted you because that you were an Irishman, you would resent
the insult. He took off his coat and his vest, took hold of my hand and
placed it on his shoulder, to let me feel his shoulder-blade that was
out of joint. “I got that,” said he, “in Australia, in a fight with
fellows that were running down the Irish.” He got that middle name,
Sidney, from having lived several years in Sydney, Australia. What a
pity it is that men like him will not fight for Ireland in Ireland.
Most of them are found on the side of Ireland’s deadliest enemy--their
enemy, too, if they would only rightly understand it.

The spirit of the men in the south of Ireland was running ahead of
the times--running into fight with the laws of the English enemy
before the Fenian organization in America or Ireland had made any
adequate preparation for a successful fight. Many of the men had gone
to America, and many of them went into the American army, to learn
the soldier’s glorious trade--as much for the benefit of Ireland’s
freedom as for the benefit of America’s freedom. Patrick Downing, Denis
Downing and William O’Shea were in Cork Jail with me in 1859. In 1863
I made a visit to America and saw Patrick Downing, Lieutenant-Colonel
of the Forty-second Tammany Regiment; William O’Shea, captain in the
same regiment; Denis Downing, captain in a Buffalo regiment, and I
saw Michael O’Brien, the Manchester martyr, enlisted into a Jersey
regiment. O’Shea was killed in the war. Denis Downing lost a leg at the
battle of Gettysburg, Patrick Downing was wounded many times. All dead
now, and many more dead, who with their last breath, wished it was in
a fight for Ireland against England they were dying. I’ll go back to
Skibbereen for a while.

Things were getting so hot there in the year 1863, and there was in
the line of business and employment, such an English boycott upon men
who were suspected of belonging to the organization that many of them
left the town and went to America. I left the town myself, and went
with a party of them--Dan Hallahan, Wm. McCarthy, Simon O’Donovan, John
O’Gorman, Jerrie O’Meara, and others, having made arrangements with my
family to be away a few months.

The word “boycott” was not in the English language then, but the
practice of the work it represents had been put in active use against
me by the landlords of the district. None of them would deal with me or
enter my shop. Small loss that, so far as it concerned the landlords
personally. But when it came to be known all around that any tenant who
would enter my shop would incur the displeasure of the landlord and
the landlord’s agent, it was a different thing; it was there I felt
their power against me. I sold all kinds of farm seeds, and I found
some farmers, who lived five miles out of town, coming in and waking
me up in the dead hour of night to buy their supply of seeds from me.
Then, some of the landlords that were given to the encouragement of the
cultivation of crops for the feeding of cattle, would give orders to
the farmers for all kinds of clover and grass seeds, and would pay the
shopkeeper’s bills for those seeds. I got my due share of those orders
during some years; but all at once they ceased coming to me, just as if
a council meeting of landlords had been held, and it was decided that
no orders be given on my house, and no bills for seeds be paid that
were contracted in my house.

I have a letter here by me that was written to me, this time by one of
the landlords, who was a kind of friend of mine. He was the biggest
man in the country; was often high sheriff, and lord lieutenant of the
county, as stately and handsome-looking a man as you could see in a
day’s walk. He had some regard or liking for me, as you may judge by
this letter of his:

    O’DONOVAN ROSSA--You slipped out of court yesterday before I
    could hand you my debt. I am sorry I should have been so long
    on your black books.

    I trust you will pardon me for saying I was sorry at what took
    place in court yesterday. Men of mind and intellect, as you
    appear to possess, should not display their powers in trifles.
    Now, suppose there was a revolution to your very heart’s
    content, and that you were placed in the very position of your
    warmest aspirations, would it tell well that O’Donovan Rossa
    had been whistling and knocking at doors to annoy the police.

    Believe me, though I do not wish you success in the foregoing,
    that I wish you prosperity in your worldly welfare. I am truly

                                                         T. SOMERVILLE.

The “bill” in question was for seed supplied to the farm steward in his

The “whistling and knocking at doors” in question, I had nothing to
do with, and know nothing about. The boys had been out in the woods
one night drilling, I suppose. When they had done, they scattered, and
came home by different roads. One party of them coming into town, knew
that the police were out of town, watching after moonlighters. They
knew there was only one policeman left in the police barrack, and that
he should stay in it; so when they were passing the house of the head
inspector, one of them gave a runaway knock on the rapper. I suppose
he thought it was a good joke on the police, who were out looking for

Some one saw me passing through the street that night, and I was
summoned with others. Tom Somerville was chairman of the magistrates,
and I showed him that I had nothing to do with knocking at any one’s
door on the occasion.

That you may not go guessing wrongly as to how or why Tom Somerville
could or should come to grow any friendship or regard for me, I may
as well give you my own guess on the subject. He had an only son, who
was a captain or major in the English army in the Crimean war in the
year 1854. During the days of the fighting, news came that the son was
killed in one of the battles, and there was much public sympathy with
the father. Then news came that the son was living. After that came the
news that the war was over, and that the son was coming home. There was
preparation in the town for giving him a “welcome home.”

John Powers Hayes, the local poet asked me to help him out with some
lines of welcome he was writing in acrostic form on “Major Thomas
Somerville.” I helped him, and then I came in for getting the credit
of doing the whole thing. So much so, that after that Tom Somerville
was disposed to be fairly friendly with me whenever I came his way. I
remember that the last five lines of that acrostic, based on the five
last letters of the word “Somerville,” ran this way:

    Valor’s representative! Skibbereen will gladly greet him,
    Imbued with feelings of respect she joyfully will meet him;
    Loudly to home she’ll welcome him--old friends, old scenes, say rather,
    Like to one risen from the dead, around him she will gather,
    Enjoying to see that he again has met his honored father.

And now I have to leave Skibbereen--leave it for good--leave it
forever, I may say. Coming on June, 1863, I came to America, having an
intention to go back in a few months’ time to live in Skibbereen. I
never went back to make my home there. Farther on you will learn, how
and why this came to pass.

But I often visit there when far away, just as many another Irish exile
visits through dreamland, the old hearth of the old home, and sees
again the old landmarks of the days of his youth in the old land.

“Many another Irish exile,” did I say?--did I call myself an
“exile”?--an Irishman in New York, an “exile”! Yes; and the word, and
all the meanings of the word, come naturally to me, and run freely
from my mind into this paper. My mother buried in America, all my
brothers and sisters buried in America; twelve of my children born in
America--and yet I cannot feel that America is my country; I am made to
feel that I am a stranger here, and I am made to see that the English
power, and the English influence and the English hate, and the English
boycott against the Irish-Irishmen is to-day as active in America as it
is in Ireland. I am also made to see England engaged in her old game of
employing dirty Irishmen to do some of the dirty work that she finds it
necessary to have done, to hold Ireland in thrall.

At the opening of this chapter I said something about Father John
O’Brien in connection with secret societies, and his telling me that
bad men generally got to the head of them, who did not use them for
good, but for bad. Whatever more I am to say in this book on that
subject, I preface it here by saying I am strongly of the opinion that
much of the preparatory work that is necessary to be done to make
Ireland free must be done in secret; and I am also strongly of the
opinion that that work can be done successfully in spite of all the
false and infamous Irishmen that England can buy into her service.
My eyes are not at all shut to the fact that the spy service is one
branch of the English service into which England recruits Irishmen for
the purpose of maintaining her hold on Ireland. That branch has to be
taken into consideration by revolutionary Irishmen, just as much as the
police branch, or the soldier branch of the English service in Ireland
has to be taken into consideration. No, I am not at all blind in that
light. I have seen too many of those spies during the past fifty years,
and have too many times been marked by their employers for one of their
victims, to doubt their ubiquity or make light of their labors. Some
of them intrigued themselves into very close companionship with me in
Irish societies. I caught them trying to kill the work I was trying to
do, and trying to kill myself. That doesn’t frighten me, though there
is something disheartening in the situation of things during the past
twenty years. The paralyzation of the Irish revolutionary movement, has
been developed to such an extent, the work connected with its resolves
has been shunted so far aside, that I cannot help asking myself is it
the hand of England that is doing all this; is it the will of England
that is working to have nothing done that will hurt or harm England.

I see the hand of England at work during those twenty years to kill
myself out of Irish life, and I see very efficient aid to that end
given by some men in Irish societies in America. I see the Dudley
woman sent out to assassinate me. I see Labouchere employed to ask
questions in the English House of Commons that proclaim me through
the world an English spy in the pay of England. That is the English
side of the work. The Irish side of the work is this: I have been
three times expelled from the membership in the Irish revolutionary
societies of America by the controlling powers of those societies. No
charges preferred against me, no trial, or no summons to appear for
trial. A simple announcement made that O’Donovan Rossa is “expelled” or
suspended. That announcement, virtually declaring me a traitor, is sent
to every club of the organization throughout the nation, and to every
affiliation it has in foreign lands. I met it in many places in England
and Ireland. I met it in many places in America. The assassin bullet in
my body bespeaks an agency less infamous than the agency that would so
assassinate my character--a character that has come to me through some
unselfish labor--and much suffering therefor--for Ireland’s freedom.
I do not see that the moral assassins have done anything for the last
twenty years that would enable me to give them the benefit of thinking
they are not in the same employment as the Dudley assassins. I print
the following two letters as samples of the product of their work:

                                             SAN JUAN, January 1, 1887.

    O’DONOVAN ROSSA--Enclosed find $2 in payment for your paper.
    Don’t send it after the receipt of this letter, for I think you
    are a traitor, and a British spy.

                                                           M. SULLIVAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                       ROCHESTER, N. Y., Aug. 13, 1888.


    SIR--For some time past you have been sending your papers to my
    brother. He says he has notified you to cut them off. He says,
    and I say with him, that your sheet has never done any good for
    Ireland, and you are a delusion and a fraud. You don’t go much
    on Parnell, do you? Why don’t you do up bloody Balfour, and
    bring him to his knees? Why? Because a coward always hoots, he
    don’t fight for a cent.

                                                        MARTIN J. RYAN.

It is very likely that Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Ryan are good men. I
will further say, could I dispossess myself of certain fears that
have grown into my mind that if I were to-morrow to go looking for
good trustworthy men to do daring and dangerous work for Ireland’s
freedom, I would first speak to men belonging to the society to which
they belong. It is not without my share of sorrow I am obliged to
think that such men are in the hands of an organization bound to the
peace, and bound to do nothing that will hurt or harm England--without
giving due notice to England first. And I may add, that if any wealthy
Irishman in the land offered me a hundred thousand dollars to day for
the cause of Ireland’s freedom, on the conditions that it should be
utilized with the advice and coöperation of the present leaders of
the Irish Revolutionary Society of America, I would refuse the offer,
so satisfied am I that there is treachery and crookedness somewhere in
that leadership.

Le Caron, the English spy, eighteen years ago had the acquaintance of
every chief man in the organization; Gibney, the English spy in Doctor
Gallagher’s case fourteen years ago, had the confidence of the New York
chiefs; Jones, the English spy, in the Ivory case in 1896, had their
confidence. I look at all this, and I see myself denounced as a traitor
and a spy by the men who took Le Caron and Gibney and Jones to their
hearts. There is something rotten somewhere, something to be cast out.

In this chapter I have brought myself as far as leaving Skibbereen
and coming to America in the summer of 1863. I have in my head many
recollections of the trials and struggles of the men at the start of
the organization and I have in my possession many letters of James
Stephens and John O’Mahony and of all the Fenian missioners, and
Fenian centres and Fenian organizers of those times in Ireland and
America. I intend in next chapter to take those letters, commencing
about the year 1860, print them in the order of date, and edit them
with any information I am able to give. That will take attention away
from myself for a while, and let you see what Scanlon and Finerty and
Fitzgerald and Kelly and other living celebrities were saying and doing
those times.

And as I am leaving Skibbereen for good, it is only just and proper
I should say a good word for all the good people who knew me there.
I must go to my grave indebted to many of them for much kindness,
indebted to many of them living and dead in New York for more than
kindness; because in my struggle to fight the battle of life here,
and to stand up against the enemies that were raised up against me,
to trample me down, I had often need of a helping hand, and I never
made that need known to a man who knew me at home, that the helping
hand was not extended to me. Photographed on my memory in that light
are Tom Browne, and James Scanlan the merchant butchers of Gansevoort
Market, and West 40th street, John Howard, of the Kenwood House Hotel;
Tim Coughlan, of Kilcrohane, 28th street and Third avenue; James P.
Farrell, of Lispenard street; Rocky Mountain O’Brien, Father Denis
McCartie, and Jerrie O’Donovan, of Dromore, all of whom knew me when
they were boys at home, and whose fathers before them knew me. Jerrie
O’Donovan is in Calvary Cemetery a few years, but his children, Leo J.
and Alfred J. O’Donovan, of Fordham College--the children of Madame
O’Donovan, of No. 37 West 36th street, New York, may live, as I hope
they will, to be proud to say that their father was a trusted, true and
tried friend of O’Donovan Rossa’s.

I have spoken of Father John O’Brien in this chapter. He is in Ireland
still, and is a Catholic curate still. When I was in Ireland four years
ago, I got this letter from him:

                                  ARDFIELD, CLONAKILTY, March 31, 1894.

    MY DEAR JER--Somebody sent me a copy of your paper, in which
    you recalled to mind a funny incident of “All fool’s day,” 1860.

    Should you include this out-of-the-way locality in your
    programme of travel now, I promise you as hearty a “welcome
    home” as you will get from any of your friends in old Erin.

    Our meeting in the “Common mountain” will not be a case of
    “Fool, fool,” like that of 1860, in Skibbereen long ago.

    Do you remember the Prince of Wales’ marriage, and the
    illuminations at the newsroom?

    Accept my sincere congratulations on your surviving through
    so many trials, to see once more your native land. You spoke
    of knowing your old friend Flor McCarthy forty years. It is
    forty-three years since Morty Downing and Jer. O’Donovan Rossa
    were introduced to your old and sincere friend.

                                                    JOHN O’BRIEN, C. C.



After the arrest of the Phœnix men in December, 1858, James Stephens
went to France. In April, 1859, when I and my companions were in Cork
Jail, he wrote this letter to John O’Mahony:

                         NO. 30 RUE DE MONTAIGNE, PARIS, April 6, 1859.

    MY DEAR O’MAHONY--The contemplated modification of our body,
    as well as the still more important step spoken of to you and
    friends the night before I left New York, you are henceforth to
    look upon as facts. I need scarcely say, however, that it will
    be wise to limit the knowledge of such a fact as the latter
    to such men as Doheny, Roche, Cantwell, etc., and to command
    all parties to whom such information is given to observe
    secrecy--not whispering it to the very air, without special
    permission from you.

    I have reason to believe myself fully justified in the course
    decided on. Indeed, on meeting our friends here, I at once saw
    the necessity of remodeling, and in many instances, utterly
    doing away with the test. Not that the men at home had given
    any sign of blenching; on this head I have every reason to be
    satisfied. One Centre only had given way, owing, probably, to
    our inability to communicate with him often enough--to the
    utter darkness, rather, in which he had been left almost from
    the very first. This man has declared off; so that however
    repentant and anxious to resume his work, he shall never more
    hold higher position than that of rank and file, till he shall
    have won his grades on the battlefield. Such be the guerdon of
    all waverers; the fate of the coward, much more the traitor,
    shall his be such as to make him curse the day he was born.
    Two other Centres, though staunch and true, and longing for
    the death-grapple, have been able to give nothing to our force
    but their own earnestness. Of two more again, our friend could
    say nothing, having found it impossible to meet them. We know,
    however, that one of these last had accomplished the work at
    first entrusted to him; and the other, though in a bad view,
    had done something. These are the shadows; now for the lights.
    As many of the Centres, known to our friend, had exceeded their
    numbers as the Centres who (though formidable, and working
    earnestly), had not been able to complete theirs. Thus, every
    Centre (balancing one with another) represents a full regiment.
    To compensate for the lost Centre and the two ineffective ones
    (the other two are merely doubtful--rather to be counted on
    than otherwise), three new Centres had been added.

    So much for the members, which, everything considered, are
    up to what we could have reasonably expected, and fully up
    to the figure I gave you. Add to this, that the spirit and
    bearing of the men were excellent; the only drawback on this
    head being, that, where the hand of British Law had fallen,
    there the craving “to be at them” was most impatient of the
    curb. Who will be base enough to say now that these men--our
    brothers--are not to be relied on. Cowardly slaves, and
    knaves, alone believe it. Let God be thanked for the day on
    which you and I, and a few other intelligent men, decided on
    taking our stand, come weal or woe, by the people of Ireland!
    The woe, I firmly believe, has passed away forever: the weal is
    coming fast, with laurels and the songs of triumph!

    Oh! we have reason to be proud of our toiling countrymen, and
    cheerful for the future. Nor does the necessary modification of
    the test lessen this a whit. It merely proves that our brothers
    are conscientious. Away with the shallow prate of their being
    servile to priestly or other influence, where freedom of their
    country is at issue. This sort of calumny was useful to the
    bungling chiefs we wot of, chiefs who would fain pass for
    martyrs, though the honor of their country were smirched by it.

    The people of Ireland are not servile to the priests, even
    now, when they are being put to so hard a proof. A proof how
    different from that of ’48! For what man could have given
    a reason worth a flea-bite against taking up arms against
    slaughter--against slaughter, however great, in a fair
    fight--aye, or even foul? The arguments of such man might be
    met by the unquestionable--unquestioned--example of the highest
    ecclesiastics of our Church, not excepting popes and even
    saints. Whereas now, there is an appearance (an appearance
    only, I maintain, for I defy all men to give me a single
    rescript bearing directly against us) of hostility on the part
    of the Church, which, wielded skilfully by the men so revered
    by our brothers, may well strike terror in the believing soul.
    I will, however, go so far as to assert that, even where
    the words of the priest are implicitly believed, numbers
    of the people would accept the worst--that is, threatened
    damnation--rather than be false to the cause of Ireland! Can as
    much be said for any other men on earth?

    I regret that numbers of the people would do so; and these,
    together with those who, happily, do not scruple to take the
    test, would give us an organization equal to the work to be

    But, convinced of the earnestness of the men so suffering
    through their conscience; who so callous as to persist in
    subjecting them to a life of ceaseless agony? I believe, too,
    that however unswerving in their truth to us, the arms of
    these men would necessarily be feebler in the day of strife.
    Besides, the conditions of a test would keep vast numbers, not
    a jot less eager for the fray, out of our ranks forever. I say
    nothing of the risk involved in the test. That risk, however,
    is, while a serious consideration for the chief who would not
    needlessly sacrifice a single man, but a slight check on the
    people who would be--nay are--deterred from joining us by the
    voice of the priest.

    It was in order effectively to countercheck that voice that I
    decided on the course you are aware of. And now I feel bound
    to say, that spite of my faith in the result of the struggle,
    the necessity of prompt and effective succor on the part of our
    brothers in America, seems great as ever.

    I am convinced, that with a little assistance--even without
    any--from America, we can bring the men at home to a fight; but
    to produce anything better than disastrous massacre, a good
    deal must be done on your side.

    On the other hand, I am equally convinced that a great deal may
    be done by you, if the work began by me be fairly carried out.
    And here, I speak in the name of God and their native land, to
    the men who encouraged, or got others to go into this movement,
    that they do the work of earnest men, laboring night and day
    for their country and their honor, so that their last hour may
    be free from remorse or shame, and those who come after them
    may proudly say:

    “Is truadh gan oighre ’n ar bh farradh.”

    For the bearer of this, John O Leary, I expect the highest
    possible courtesy, respect, and even deference, as my
    representative; and, through me, the representative of the
    Irish cause; you will soon perceive that he is an able man of
    high intellectual culture; his bearing, too, will prove--what I
    assure you of--his high principles of honor, and convince you
    how devotedly he loves Ireland. To you, however, I might say
    that, spite of all these high qualities, our differences on
    many serious things are so very great that, had I a choice of
    men of such intellectual calibre and honor, I would not urge on
    him a mission so little to his taste. For, in the abstract--as
    a matter of taste as well as judgment--he is not a republican.

    This alone would seem to disqualify him for the work to be done
    by him in America.

    But while averse to the republican form of government in the
    abstract, he is ready to accept it when it represents the
    national will.

    We know that a republican must represent the will of
    revolutionized Ireland; and, consequently, that he is virtually
    the loyal citizen of our young republic. Still, it was better
    that principles of government, etc., were not discussed with
    him before some of our extreme friends. His faith in the
    success of the movement, too, is not at all equal to mine; but
    he believes the probability of success sufficient to, not only
    justify, but imperatively call on every Irishman to coöperate
    with us. Lastly, he does not know that I am equal to the task I
    have undertaken; but, if not the most efficient of organizers,
    in his opinion I am second to no Irishman of his acquaintance,
    and superior to anybody he knows able and willing to do the
    work. For all these reasons I deem it unwise to send him
    through the States; he has neither the opinions nor the faith
    in the cause, that could ensure the requisite results. But he
    can do the work you are at in New York. He can live without
    that essential nutriment of so many of our friends:--talk;
    and, without any compromise of either himself or the cause,
    give quite as much information to the curious as I am at all
    desirous they should have. You may have it made known to all
    but a few of your friends, that the actual state of things at
    home imperatively necessitates a certain reserve--that any
    serious departure from such reserve would be a breach of Mr.
    O’L.’s instructions; that I myself had become convinced of the
    necessity of limiting my confidence on essential matters as
    much as possible, being guarded even with you, and speaking of
    certain things under the command of secrecy.

    By observing these directions, and keeping all merely
    curious--or others, except for the transaction of
    business--away from him, he will fulfil his mission as
    effectively as anybody, however in accordance with our opinions.

    He is making such serious sacrifices, too, in order that my
    plans should not be thwarted, and I am so grateful for this,
    that, independent of his services to the cause, I am desirous
    he should be much as possible at his ease. To effect this, it
    may be necessary to convey to our friends that, in his private
    residence, he should not be subjected to what somebody terms
    “promiscuous visitings.”

    Having decided, then, that O’L. should remain to do your work
    in New York, on you devolves the working tour through the

    You are better known now than before taking the position you
    were placed in some months ago; indeed, I heard nobody spoken
    so highly of, once I got out of “the great patriotic influence.”

    With such a reputation in your favor, and the intelligence
    contained in this letter, I believe, judging from what I
    experienced myself, that your success is beyond a doubt.
    Your mission will be justified, I have no doubt, by the late
    trials and their result. It will be seen that the government
    is in earnest--resolved, if needful and possible to crush out
    what the London _Times_ calls our “accursed race.” It will
    be seen that to procure conviction, they were found to pack
    a jury! Best of all, that O’Sullivan, of Bonane, seeing that
    justice was not to be had in British courts of law in Ireland,
    withdrew from the wretched mockery of trial by such a jury,
    and met his sentence of ten years’ penal servitude like a man.
    Honor, to the first martyr of our cause! Should the present
    administration remain in office--(my friend O’Leary has just
    informed me that Lord Derby has dissolved parliament). So,
    we shall have a general election! Why, next to a European
    war, a general election is about the best thing that could
    have happened for us! And the enemy--God increase their
    difficulties!--shall have the European war to boot! Oh! if all
    your transatlantic talk should turn out other than the vilest
    driveling, this very year shall see the Sunburst in the old
    sacred Isle!

    As the present administration does retain office, then, at
    least for some months, and all ambitious of leaving their
    mark in Ireland, we shall have more perjuries, more packing
    of juries, more convictions and punishments, and (thank God!)
    the manifestation of more manhood in the land. For, as I was
    certain, even before my return, the men at home shall be found
    firm; circumstances have proved, as already mentioned, that
    they are firmest--most eager for the strife--where the hand of
    British law has fallen.

    Think of this, and go cheerfully on your way; think of it, and
    go with the firm resolution to let nothing--I will not say
    make you yield, or even falter, but--let nothing ruffle your
    temper for an hour. Think also, that from no living man--not
    excepting myself--do our brothers, the men in the gap, at home,
    expect more than from you; that so much confidence and love
    deserve more than the small sacrifices (small in your eyes
    and mine, though so justly large in the eyes of many of our
    countrymen) you have hitherto made, and that nothing short of
    effective work can keep you from going into the grave most
    deeply their debtor. For theirs is the coin--love, esteem and
    confidence--that has its equivalent in heroic devotion alone.
    It will not do to say you are ready to give them life--the
    common soldier will give that--for a few cents a day. Give
    them your heart, brain and soul--best given by the toil that
    shall give them the freedom yearned for by them as earnestly as
    by their sires, through so many ages of blood and woe. Work,
    brother, as you love me. Your labors may save me. For, my
    resolution remains unshaken--to free Ireland or perish. Set to
    work soon as you have read this. Get every one of your friends
    (no matter how humble, the humble man may be able to recommend
    you to some generous heart or willing arm in one or other of
    the States) to give you letters of introduction. Procure these
    letters by the hundred--by the thousand, if possible. Let the
    letters be brief, and to the point, so as not to take up too
    much room. For the same reason, you might have them written on
    a single leaf, and dispense with envelopes.

    In connection with these details I deem it necessary on account
    of notions of yours to tell--nay, command--you to procure
    clothes suited to the climates through which you have to pass,
    as well as to the ideas of the people you may come in contact
    with. Trifling as these matters may seem, the neglect of them
    might occasion deplorable consequences to the cause as well
    as to yourself. A very essential counsel comes now. Write at
    once to each of the centres, and (where there is no centre)
    sub-centres of the American organization. In your letters
    quote any portion of this letter you think it judicious to
    communicate. Call on them to forward all the men and money
    possible to New York, giving instructions to the men to see
    O’Leary, who knows what to do about sending them to Ireland.
    Of course the money orders must be sent in O’L.’s name; the
    receipts, however, are to be signed for you, as your name is
    to stand before the public as central receiver. Of course,
    there will be no need of keeping it on the public papers after
    you return to New York. You will do well to get a couple of
    hundred of the organization rolls struck off, so as to be able
    to establish systematic work in the various places in which
    it is as yet unknown. Take a copy of the accompanying diagram
    with you. The headings of the columns explain its object--to
    enable me to communicate with every man who goes to Ireland.
    Take down the name, birthplace, &c., &c., of each man on one of
    those forms--a separate one for every place from which you send
    men; be particular about every point, especially the passwords;
    enclose the form in an envelope, and forward it sealed, to O’L.
    These various envelopes will be brought by the persons he sends
    to me, together with similarly enclosed forms for the parties
    he sends to Ireland from New York, as you send them from the
    various places on your route.

    The forms you send to New York to be forwarded to me must be
    seen by no eye but your own, on account of the passwords,
    which would be useless to me if known to any other; for the
    same reason, the forms sent by O’L. must be seen by him only.
    As most of the men sent home will be able to undertake the
    organization of a company--nine sergeants, each with nine rank
    and file--and that none of them will have any scruple about
    a test, give them one to administer to any parties at home,
    equally free from such scruples. For, in every instance in
    which we find them so, the test will be kept up. The form of
    the test, I leave to yourself, merely telling you that the oath
    of secrecy must be omitted. The clause, however, which binds
    them to “yield implicit obedience to the commands of superior
    officers” provides against their babbling propensities, for,
    when the test in its modified form is administered, you, as
    the superior official, in the case of the men you enroll,
    command them to be silent with regard to the affairs of the
    brotherhood, and to give the same command to the men of the
    grade below them, and so on. But the test, in its modified
    form, is not to be administered to any one who considers it a
    cause of confession.

    I expect you to be ready for the road a week after O’L.’s
    arrival. When writing to the Centres and sub-Centres, as
    already directed, you might request them to send your
    letters of introduction to their friends; some of these
    you would receive before leaving New York, and the others
    would be forwarded to you by O’L. at one or other of your
    resting-places. Your tour will be very different from mine
    with regard to time. I give you three months to accomplish
    your work. This will enable you to spend a week, at need,
    in every large city where celts do congregate, and to make
    short excursions, out of the main route, to small places
    highly recommended to you. The route I leave to the judgment
    of yourself and friends; only recommending you to make first
    for the South, so as to lessen the chance of being clutched by
    yellow fever, or other blessings of that delicious clime. I
    recommend you to leave no town without sufficient money to take
    you, at least, two journeys onward; one town might be a failure.

    I have done. Good cheer, firmness, perseverance and God speed
    you on the way.

    A few words more. When you find yourself in a large city,
    likely to detain you long enough to be able to hear from O’L.
    don’t omit writing to him; you might even telegraph from such
    city, if not, that you were going there. All O’L.’s messengers
    will come to me by the Fulton or Arago; that is, once a month.
    Procure a list of the sailing dates of those boats, so as to be
    able to forward all the money possible, to be brought to me by
    said messengers.

    It is past one o’clock in the morning (meaning an hour past
    the witching time); and so, I must close with brotherhood to
    all, and a prayer, that none of you be found wanting. It is
    not easy for me to close, without special remembrance to my
    friends. But I must do it, else, another hour would not suffice
    to write down even the names of all entitled to it. But, none
    are forgotten. Omitted to say that, when writing to Centres
    and sub-Centres--well, on reflection, it seems to me that my
    words involve what I was about saying. Still, as they may not
    be over clear, better you should inform them of O’L.’s arrival,
    not forgetting the importance I attach to him; and, at the
    same time, announce your own tour. You must have observed the
    omission of the friend’s name who has worked so untiringly and
    well with me from the beginning. Of course, also, you have
    guessed the cause of the omission. The fact is, he is a little
    known, not to say a specially marked man, and so, I must not
    make him too sure a hit for them--in case of miscarriage in
    the present instance; that is, of this letter, which has to
    pass through hostile ground. I deem it necessary to suggest the
    greatest reserve with regard to names in general, and specially
    with regard to prominent names. Adieu. Health and fraternity.

                                            INNISFAIL (James Stephens).

    P. S. The only two of my acquaintances, in France, from whom,
    for the present, I could expect, not to say ask, money, are not
    in Paris. Both reside in the country, coming occasionally to
    Paris. One of them will be here in a fortnight or so; though
    aware of this I wrote to him last week. The address of the
    second I did not get till yesterday, and shall write to him
    also, this very day. On this head, I expect to have something
    cheerful to say in my next dispatch. Tell Roche and Mr. O’Dwyer
    so. In the meantime do not see Roche short; I will make good
    what you advance him. Our friends the Militaires, I have kept
    aloof from, clearly because these gentry must be entertained in
    a way the present exchequer would not admit of--they must see
    no want of the sinews of war. But I could lay my hand on a few
    even now, and answer for what I said on this head with my honor.



Though I spoke of the McManus funeral before, I have now to speak of
it again. I find among my papers a letter written by James Stephens
to John O’Mahony, the week after the funeral took place in Dublin.
It deals trenchantly with the milk-and-water Irish patriots of that
time and even of this time who are ever telling us that “England’s
difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity,” and ever calling upon us to “bide
our time,” and do nothing until that time comes.

This is that letter:

    BROTHER--Your last letter (30th Nov.) was placed in my
    hand yesterday by Lieut. O’Connor. On the whole it is the
    healthiest, and consequently the most pleasant communication
    I have had from you for years. This is owing to its freedom
    from what looked like a chronic disease in you--fault-finding
    in general and a proneness to advice, and even lecturing, men
    of ripe years who have proved themselves the only practical
    workmen this country has produced in our time. I say this
    without the most remote intention to hurt you in any way,
    and solely that you may henceforth avoid what has been not
    alone irritating to me, but calculated to lower you in the
    estimation of men who would otherwise think highly of you.
    Now, if ever, there should be a thorough understanding and
    union between us, and to this end it is incumbent on us to cut
    as little as possible against the grain. A word to the wise.
    Even in this last letter, you complain of not having been
    written to; from which it follows that you had not received a
    letter of mine written immediately after the funeral. If the
    post office has not begun to play on us, your complaint has
    been proved a vain one long ago. The letter of mine alluded
    to was a hurried answer to this constant complaint of yours
    anent non-correspondence; but, if necessary, I could say a
    great deal more than my letter contained. About the same time,
    I sent you twenty copies of the _Irishman_, twenty of the
    _Freeman’s Journal_ and twenty of the _Express_. These three
    papers, as you are aware, represent three sets of opinions--the
    National (for unfortunately or fortunately, as the case may
    be, we have no other _national_ journal than that brassy,
    mendacious, silly, sordid and malignant _Irishman_), the Whig
    and the Tory; perhaps the article of the last organ is the
    most telling of all. My letter, should you have received it,
    gives a far more correct estimate of the power, feeling and
    discipline manifested by us at the funeral; but should my
    letter have gone astray, Jeremiah Kavanagh, who will hand you
    this, can make up for everything. And here, I may as well say a
    few words about the American Deputation. The Brothers, without
    exception, have given thorough satisfaction; Jeremiah Kavanagh,
    especially, has been of important service to us, owing not
    only to his zeal and subordination, but also to his natural
    talents as a ready and effective speaker. But I wish it to be
    distinctly understood that I am thoroughly satisfied with all
    the Brothers. On their return, they can be of much service to
    us here, not only in the fulfilment of their usual duties, but
    in holding up to just scorn and reprobation the vile press and
    sham patriots we have to deal with--the brood who have so long
    passed as the “Trusted Leaders” of the people. By Demas, we
    have scared and routed them somewhat here; but the _coup de
    grace_ can be given them yonder by the Deputation. As you are
    wise and true--to yourself, to us, and to your country--do not
    neglect to favor all willing hearts in this great duty.

    Crisis or no Crisis?--_that_ is the question. Another question,
    of far more importance to us, is this: If a _real_ crisis,
    what will be its consequences to us? I shall offer a few
    observations on these two points. If there be one thing, in
    connection with the cause of Ireland, I more cordially detest
    than any other, it is what scribblers or spouters call “a
    Crisis.” It has been the chronic bane of Ireland--a more fatal
    bane than famine or any other the enemy have had, to perpetuate
    their rule. A bane--a scourge--a disease--a devil’s scourge
    it has been to us. Its best known formula has resolved itself
    into this: “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity.”
    Blind, base and deplorable motto--rallying-cry--motive of
    action--what you will. May it be accursed, it, its aiders
    and abettors. Owing to it, and them, the work that should
    _never_ have stood still, has been taken up in feverish fits
    and starts, and always out of time, to fall into collapse
    when the “opportunity,” predestined to escape them, had
    slipped through their hands. Ireland’s trained and marshalled
    manhood alone can _ever_ make--could ever have made--Ireland’s
    opportunity. And this opportunity, the manhood of Ireland
    alone, without the aid of any foreign power--without the aid
    of even our exiled brothers, could have been _made_ any time
    these thirty years; and, whether England was at peace or war,
    with this manhood alone we could have won our own. But our
    duped and victimized countrymen, giving ear to the imbecile or
    knavish cry of “English difficulty,” stood, with mouth agape,
    and over and over again, waiting--“biding their time”--till
    the opportunity came, and left them as before. Accursed, I
    say, be the barren, lunatic or knavish clods who raised this
    dog souled cry--a cry to be heard even _now_, in the mouths
    of the slanderous brood who, as you say, “first misled and
    then abandoned a brave and devoted people.” They are, I say,
    raising the cry once more--this cry of--a crisis--“England’s
    difficulty.” By the time this reaches you--before it reaches
    you--you shall have heard of the “Mass Meeting” at the Rotundo.
    I shall speak of it myself by and by; but for the present, I
    pass on to the--crisis! _Is_ it to be a _real_ crisis after
    all? I am far from convinced of it. Nothing, far as I can see,
    has taken place to preclude an arrangement--a compromise of
    some sort. It seems to me that the reasons for this, especially
    on the side of America, are very cogent. I waive the question
    of the actual state of Jonathan--a state which, according
    to your own account, bodes something like decomposition--a
    crumbling into utter chaos. How would a war with England
    set this to right? Are the men at Washington so ignorant of
    human nature as to hope, even in the face of a foreign foe,
    for a fusion with the South? Then look to Europe. There, the
    feeling, and what is of far greater weight in human action, the
    interests of all are decidedly with England. It is by no means
    impossible--even improbable--that France will be thoroughly
    with England. America cannot possibly be blind to this; if
    blind now, her eyes will be opened, probably, in time to stave
    off a collision. Granted, however, that human passions, human
    blindness--shall hurry the States into this war with England,
    and that we shall have a bona fide crisis. Granted, too, that
    Europe shall rise above mere interest, stand aloof from the
    fray, and leave England to fight it out single-handed. What
    will then be the consequences to us? Do you hope for good
    results? I am not by any means sanguine; or, to be thoroughly
    outspoken, it seems to me--I apprehend--that, in the case in
    question, far more evil than good shall accrue to us. Once
    engaged with England, our communications with America are at
    an end; at least, no men can come home, and even money, only
    in an indirect and roundabout way. Then, the cry will be on
    your side, “let us settle our own difficulties first--let us
    drive the enemy from our shores, and then we shall do your
    business for you.” How long will this state of things last?
    How many of the best of our race shall be sacrificed in this
    way? And they, poor dupes and victims, shall be all the while
    dreaming that they are serving their native land! Then, again,
    some popular soldier, gifted with more heart than brain, or
    without much of either, may get it into his head to prepare
    an expedition, “homeward bound.” Let us suppose he has forced
    the double blockade--yonder and here--and that he has actually
    set foot on Irish soil. He landed where he could; but, for
    the sake of argument, I suppose he landed on some point where
    we are strong. To suppose the contrary would be to talk of
    utter ruin to us and the cause of Ireland forevermore. For we
    have but this one chance. Any man who holds the contrary, is
    incapable of making up the sum--two and two are four. There he
    is, then, on some favorable point. How many men could he bring
    to us under the circumstances? Granted--again for the sake of
    argument--that the number is considerable. As we have had no
    understanding with him--as he takes us as much by surprise as
    the enemy--we have only to make the most of the--shall I call
    it Godsend? Then again--but I will not go on in this stain of
    conjecture. I shall merely say that I augur no good for us
    from this war, so much desired by certain Irish patriots. The
    consummation most devoutly to be wished for by us is this:
    An arrangement or compromise of some kind between North and
    South, and the consequent disbandment of the army. Then, as
    well as meantime, our communications would be open with you;
    money and men might be coming over to us, and we would choose
    our own time for the first blow. Indeed, the advantages to us
    appear to me so manifest, in this latter case--that of England
    keeping out of the struggle--that it would be boresome to you
    to point them out. Were we in the field, it would be clearly
    an advantage to us to have England in a death struggle with
    America; but I am more than doubtful of the advantages to be
    gained by us should this struggle begin before we rise. But
    of course--or is it so?--we can do nothing to bring about or
    prevent this war. You say that, should it take place, “your
    purpose is to offer your own services and those of your friends
    to the United States government to serve against England, in
    Ireland if possible, but if not, anywhere.” I look upon this
    as wise, and fully approve of it. You will recollect that, in
    my letter of the 8th of June last, I counselled you to make
    yourself thoroughly aware of the spirit and action of those
    amongst whom you were living, and then take action yourself,
    always aiming at the greatest service to Ireland. Now, in case
    of a war with England, all the Irish race on the American
    continent will be into it; so that you could not stand aloof
    without the utter loss of your influence. Clearly you must to
    the field, and the more prominent your position, the better
    for Ireland. Granted, then, that you are in the field, and in
    a foremost position, I would not allow myself, even then, to
    be too hasty in urging on an expedition. I should keep up my
    correspondence with home, and be sure that everything was right
    there, convinced that, without a vast power of trained men at
    home, armed already, or to be provided with arms by me, the
    expedition--if not far beyond anything that has ever in that
    way steered for the Irish shore--could only compromise the last
    chance like every preceding one. I would not, like so many
    ignorant or silly men, fancy that 10,000 or 20,000, or even
    30,000 Irish-Americans, could if landed on our shores, give
    freedom to my country, unless, as already said, a vast power of
    trained men, armed already, or to be armed by me, were ready to
    fly to my standard. I would not allow myself to be deluded by
    the lunatic dream, that a mob, however numerous or numberless,
    could make victory a certain or even a probable thing. I would
    believe, on the other hand, that a trained power at home--say
    of 100,000 men--already armed, or for whom I bought arms,
    could--nay would--be sure to do more with the aid of so small a
    number as 1,000, than an auxiliary force of even 30,000 could
    ever effect, if backed by a mere mob, whatever its number. I
    would therefore and as already said, be sure that there was
    at home a strong power of trained men to coöperate with the
    force brought by me, and till I was sure of this, nothing could
    force me to undertake a descent on the Irish shores, convinced
    that such descent, so far from serving my country, would only
    deprive her of the last chance of freedom. These are amongst
    the many things sure to be suggested to me, should I ever find
    myself in the position I supposed you in _toute a l’heure_. Let
    us be provided against all contingencies.

        In haste, yours faithfully

                                            J. KELLY, (JAMES STEPHENS).

That is a letter entitled to serious consideration from the Irish
newspaper men of Ireland and America who occasionally write of
“England’s difficulty being Ireland’s opportunity.” And much more is it
a letter worthy of serious consideration from the patriotic Irishmen
enrolled in military regiments, and military companies, connected with
Irish societies in America. Those men have the proper Irish spirit--the
spirit to become proficient as soldiers--with the hope that some day an
opportunity may come to them to fight for the freedom of their native
land. But this thing of waiting for that opportunity, instead of making
it, (which Irishmen could do, and should do) has taken many an Irish
soldier to his grave without doing any fighting for Ireland.

If the Irish men and Irish societies and Irish soldiers of the world
do nothing to make “difficulties” for England but what they are doing
at the present day, I, too, have little hope but that I will be in my
“long home” before I see Ireland free. For I, too, from my earliest
days, and all the days of my life, desired to be a soldier for
Ireland--desired to be among the men who would be at the front in the
face of danger, daring and doing all that brave men could dare and do
for their country’s freedom.

When John O’Leary was writing his “Recollections of Fenianism” in the
Dublin papers, in the year 1896, he said that when the Phœnix prisoners
were in the Cork Jail, word was sent to them by James Stephens not to
accept their release from jail on the terms of pleading “guilty.”

I know that the prisoners got no such word--for I was one of them.
The men of the organization who were in Cork City were somewhat
disaffected; they spoke to us as if the whole work was abandoned after
the arrests. There was general disorganization and demoralization.

After our release from prison Mr. Thomas Clarke Luby visited the south
of Ireland a few times. He was in communication with James Stephens in
Paris, and with John O’Mahony. A letter he wrote to John O’Mahony in
August, 1860, will give the reader an idea of the difficulties that
beset the organization that time. This is it:

                                             DUBLIN, 25th August, 1860.

    MY DEAR MR. O’MAHONY--I shall commence this letter by informing
    you that when your agent James Butler arrived in P----, our
    friend there decided on associating me with him in his Irish
    mission. Accordingly, copies of your correspondence with
    Chicago and St. Louis were placed in my hands; also, copies of
    all the passages of your letter to James, embodying charges,
    and, lastly, a long and able statement written by our friend.
    I was instructed to accompany your agent through the country;
    to make use of those papers; to place the charges contained
    in them before the principal shareholders of our firm; to
    explain the greater or less amount of truth existing in
    those charges; to lay before our friends fairly and squarely
    the question--whether our friend should withdraw from the
    management of the firm, or remain at his post; to try to
    produce a pressure from the members of the firm here on those
    across the sea, and to cause such steps to be taken as would
    give you satisfactory means of demonstrating, in the teeth of
    all reports to the contrary effect, that the transactions of
    the firm here were bona fide transactions. With this view, to
    cause letters to be written by friends of ours, in various
    localities through the country, to their friends in America,
    calling on them to repose unlimited confidence in you, and to
    sustain you in all your efforts; and, finally, I was to write
    and sign a document expressing the most unbounded confidence in
    you (as you will see, I have written one, expressing unlimited
    confidence in both you and our friend;) and to procure as many
    signatures to the document, of principal shareholders, as I

    I have carried out those instructions to the best of my
    ability, and in fact, my success in the business has gone
    beyond my warmest anticipations. I would have written to you
    sooner, in order to relieve the anxiety which I know you
    must feel, were it not that I still was hoping to send my
    communication by Mr. C. Besides, as you will gather from the
    ensuing portion of this letter, the work to be done was not
    completed; and indeed, owing to unavoidable circumstances, it
    is even yet incomplete. However, I can no longer withhold from
    you the cheering intelligence I have to give you. Therefore, I
    have at last decided on sending you a letter by post.

    But, let me here, in the first place, assert emphatically that
    never have more impudent and calumnious falsehoods been uttered
    than the statements regarding our business madly hazarded by
    that unfortunate rash man over there.

    To dare deny that our firm was bona fide and solvent! Placing
    out of view for a moment the result of my movements, Mr.
    C.----, and Mr. B----, of St. Louis will, on their return,
    furnish you with a triumphant refutation of the monstrous and
    barefaced calumny. Nay, their letters must already, I should
    think, have satisfied you about our solvency. Why, even your
    friend Mr. K----, who saw comparatively little, learned enough,
    I fancy, to enable him to convince you that our transactions
    here are bona fide. I would almost venture to maintain that our
    County Cork branch alone, even now, comes up to the full height
    of what James originally engaged to do. What, then, shall we
    say when we take Kilkenny and the other districts into our

    But, to give you a summary of the results of my mission:
    Since I received our friend’s instructions I have seen twenty
    principal shareholders, not to speak of numerous lesser ones
    who called on me in various places. Of these twenty, no less
    than nineteen signed the paper of confidence, and signed it
    in a manner which quadrupled my delight at getting their
    signatures. They listened to the tale of the calumnies of that
    unhappy man, but also with unspeakable scorn and indignation.

    I cannot give you any adequate idea of the warmth with which
    I was received by some of the shareholders and their friends.
    My only complaint was, that their ardor occasionally outran
    discretion. Seeing those things with my bodily vision, and,
    at the same time calling to mind the outrageously impudent
    statements which had been made in certain quarters, I often
    fancied myself in a sort of dream. I do not deny that in two or
    three places I found apathy. But in spite of such drawbacks,
    I derived more pleasure from this last trip than from all my
    former ones put together. Almost everything satisfied me. In
    some spots, where, up to this, was comparative coldness; for
    the future expect enthusiasm. I got but one refusal, and even
    that did not by any means amount to a withdrawal of confidence.
    Indeed, the refusal was based on grounds simply childish. This
    occurred in Waterford City; but I have discovered another
    friend there who, without interfering with the former agent,
    will act with youthful energy. Lest I should forget it, let me
    add that shortly some new travelers will be added to the firm.

    But, to return. I got three signatures by letter since I came
    back to Dublin. The letters shall be sent as vouchers. As my
    tour was unavoidably shortened, Mr. C---- procured me another
    signature; while Dan, who recently received a remittance
    will, in two or three days, send me not less than six more.
    Altogether, I should have from 27 to 30. This is surely
    wonderful, considering all things. Bear in mind, that two
    places in North Tipperary (where things are more or less in
    confusion) and three in Waterford County, (which I have reason
    to believe more or less good), with three indifferently managed
    places in other directions, must all remain unvisited. This,
    for many reasons, which can be explained hereafter.

    I had almost forgotten to add here, that I expect that numbers
    of letters will be written by friends of ours in various
    parts of Ireland, calling on their friends at the other side
    to sustain you. In a word, the confidence of our shareholders
    cannot be overturned. I may as well state now, that the
    prospect of a visit from you delighted all. This visit will
    produce the greatest results. Nothing should prevent it from
    taking place.

    I might for a moment speak my own mind. When our concern
    began, I was not over-sanguine. But now, supposing I were not
    already a shareholder and yet could know everything I do know,
    I would at once become a shareholder, aye, without a moment’s
    hesitation or loss of time. I say it emphatically; we have
    to-day a better starting point than any we have had up to this.

    This belief of mine is shared by most of our friends. Even
    J. P. Leonard of Paris, (coldly as he is wont to look on our
    prospects, and little prone as he is to indulge in sanguine
    anticipations)--agreed with me so far, two or three days
    ago. But, when I speak thus confidently, recollect that my
    confidence is based on the hope that we shall now act on
    the minds of our friends across the sea in such wise as to
    make them react on us in a regular go-ahead style. We bear,
    recollect, a certain brunt, which as yet they have not to
    bear. It is little enough, then for them to attend chiefly and
    efficiently to the financial department. Besides, have not our
    friends here sunk large sums, too?

    But, if the two battledores, so to speak, cannot keep the
    shuttlecock flying, backward and forward, without stop or
    fall, things must go wrong. In short, there must be incessant
    activity, alike with you, and with us; and intercommunication
    and enterprise, too.

    In fact, some few of our shareholders in the South are
    beginning to lose faith in your branch, and to think more and
    more every day of self-reliance. They are in sooth, a little
    disgusted with the great promises and little performance of
    some men at the other side who, let me add, seem so ready to
    censure shortcomings, for which in reality, they have only
    themselves to blame, and to believe the vilest slanders, backed
    by testimony insufficient to convict, the basest of mankind.

        I remain, dear Mr. O’Mahony,

            Very truly yours,

                                                          THOMAS CLARK.

Then, on the American side of the water, there were rumors going around
to the prejudice of John O’Mahony, and of his efforts to spread the
movement. Parties were saying that everything in Ireland was dead; that
there was no organization there; that what was there, died out with the
arrest and imprisonment of the men there.

To contradict those reports it was deemed necessary by James Stephens
to get to a document the signatures of the centres who were again
working actively in different counties of Ireland, and to send that
document to John O’Mahony. Mr. Luby exerted himself to get those
signatures. Here is what he says to Mr. O’Mahony, sending him the paper:

                                                 DUBLIN, Sept. 9, 1860.

    MY DEAR MR. O’MAHONY--I send you the document of confidence
    with the signature of twenty-five officers of the “A” class or,
    as our American friends I believe, call them, head-centres.
    Considering that circumstances compelled us to leave many good
    men unvisited, this is far from being a bad result. We are all
    in good spirits at home here. Many circumstances combine to
    enliven us now; among other exhilarating causes, the prospect
    of a speedy visit from you is an exhilarating one.

    And here is a copy of the paper:

    We, the undersigned local representatives, in Ireland, of the
    Irish Firm--over the American branch of which John O’Mahony
    has been appointed Supreme Director--hereby express our
    unlimited confidence in the ability and integrity with which
    that gentleman has conducted our affairs in America; and, also,
    our admiration of the noble constancy which has enabled him to
    sustain our interests unflinchingly amidst the severest trials,
    and in the face of the most shameful and unmerited calumny.

    We also testify, in the strongest manner, our approval of
    the conduct and devotion of James Stephens, in the general
    arrangement of the firm, under similar trying circumstances,
    and, finally, we confirm both these gentlemen in the authority
    originally conferred upon them; and express our unalterable
    determination to stand by them while they represent us, against
    all their enemies, whether open or disguised--their enemies
    being ours, also!

    1. Peter Langan, Dublin.

    2. Thomas Clarke Luby, Dublin.

    3. Joseph Dennieffe, Dublin.

    4. Charles Beggs, Dublin.

    5. James W. Dillon, Wicklow.

    6. Thomas Purcell, Bray.

    7. William Butler, Waterford City.

    8. John Haltigan, Kilkenny.

    9. John O’Cavanagh, Carrickon Suir.

    10. Edward Coyne, Callan.

    11. Thos. Hickey, Coolnamuck Co., Waterford.

    12. Dennis D. Mulcahy, Jr., Redmondstone Co., Tipperary.

    13. Brian Dillon, Cork City.

    14. William O’Carroll, Cork City.

    15. Jer. O’Donovan-Rossa, Skibbereen, Cork.

    16. Daniel McCartie, Skibbereen, Cork.

    17. James O’Mahony, Bandon Co., Cork.

    18. Thomas P. O’Connor, Laffana, Tipperary Co.

    19. James O’Connell, Clonmel.

    20. William O’Connor, Grange, Clonmel.

    21. Michael Commerford, Newtown, Carrickon Suir.

    22. Mortimer Moynahan, Skibbereen Co., Cork.

    23. Eugene McSwiney, Toames, Macroom.

    24. Denis O’Shea, Kenmare.

    25. Martin Hawe, Kilkenny.

The following two letters from Michael Commerford, of Carrick-on-Suir,
and Martin Hawe, of Kilkenny (still living, 1898) bear testimony as to
the truth and time of my story.

                                HIGH STREET, KILKENNY, Sept. 7th, 1860.

    In compliance with yours it is with much pleasure I state that
    I place the greatest confidence in the honor and integrity of
    the two gentlemen who have labored so hard to reëstablish the
    true Irish manufactory, which goods are just now in very great
    demand. Should either of those two gentlemen withdraw, I will
    never deal with the firm after.

        Yours fraternally,

                                                           MARTIN HAWE.

       *       *       *       *       *

                               NEWTOWN, CARRICK-ON-SUIR, 8 August, ’60.

    DEAR MR. LUBY--I authorize you to sign my name to the papers
    expressing confidence in the devotion and wisdom of our
    leaders, James and John.

                                                    MICHAEL COMMERFORD.

    Keep up your spirits. We are all well and determined. Your
    friend T. O’C. waited on me.

                                                                  M. C.

    Mr. Thomas Clark.



The two letters published in the last chapter, written by James
Stephens and Thomas Clark Luby to John O’Mahony, at the start of the
Fenian movement, speak for the Irish side of the house. The following
letter, written by John O’Mahony to William Sullivan, of Tiffin, Ohio,
at the start of the movement, speaks for the American side. I may add
that there is not a line or a word added, omitted or altered in this
original manuscript letter of John O’Mahony’s:

                              NO. 6 CENTRE ST., N. Y., 4th April, 1859.


    MY DEAR SIR--I rest satisfied that our organization cannot
    now go down in Ohio while under the earnest and influential
    auspices of yourself and your brothers. It is but natural that
    our progress should be slow at first, particularly as our
    finances do not yet warrant us in sending round agents to the
    different centres of the Irish-American population. Neither
    have we at our disposal in this country the right kind of man
    to send forth as our representative. I could not myself be
    absent from this for many days without injury to the movement.
    We must then wait until the arrival of Mr. O’Leary, who must
    be now on his way out. As you are most probably already aware,
    he was to have met Mr. Stephens on his landing, and, having
    given his report of the progress made by the so-called Phœnixes
    for the last five months, to have come directly to this, with
    instructions for our further guidance. After seeing me and
    staying a few days to rest himself in this city, he will set
    out on his tour of organization. You will be likely to meet him
    here when you come in the middle of the month.

    We must calculate upon a certain amount of opposition from some
    of the priests. I do not, however, consider it judicious to
    come into collision with them openly. Those who denounce us go
    beyond their duty as clergymen. They are either bad Irishmen,
    who would not wish to see Ireland a nation, or very stupid and
    ignorant zealots, who do not understand what they are about.
    Our association is neither anti-Catholic nor irreligious. We
    are an Irish army, not a secret society. We make no secret of
    our objects and designs. We simply bind ourselves to conceal
    such matters as are needful to be kept from the enemy’s
    knowledge, both for the success of our strategy and for the
    safety of our friends. I hold that I do not exceed the bounds
    prescribed by my religion when I swear this, nor shall I ever
    tax my conscience with it in the confessional. It is ridiculous
    for men to denounce us for enrolling ourselves under the
    Irish banner, when they say nothing against those who enroll
    themselves under the American banner, or even under the banner
    of such private adventurers as General Walker and others, whose
    sole apparent aim is most unjustifiable plunder. However, there
    is no use in arguing with members of the priesthood on such
    points. It is better to avoid their denunciatory attacks by
    modifying the form of our pledge so as not to be obnoxious to
    spiritual censure, even by the most exacting ecclesiastic in
    America. They cannot deny the goodness, justice and even piety
    of the object we propose, and, if there be a shade of sin in
    the words by which we pledge ourselves to effect it, let those
    words be so altered as to be perfectly innocuous to the soul.
    This can be done wherever a clergyman insists upon it: but
    where there are liberal and enlightened priests, there need be
    no change.

    In every case, it will be well to give but as few secrets as
    possible to individual members. They can do good work without
    knowing all that is doing, and who are doing it. They should
    be taught that it is enough for them to know that those in
    immediate communication with themselves are trustworthy, and
    that they will truly and faithfully discharge the duties of
    their position. Men need not be sworn previous to helping us
    along. They see enough by the newspapers to show them that
    the time for exertion is come now--that Ireland is thoroughly
    aroused and that a crisis in England’s fate is fast approaching
    from her external enemies.

    A member of the Belfast Arms Club has arrived here within a
    few days. He was the secretary of the men lately arrested
    there. The news he brings is highly encouraging. The Ribbonmen,
    throughout the North, are fully determined to join the
    Phœnixes, as they call them. In Belfast they have 20,000 stand
    of arms. Their organization extends through all Ulster and
    much of Connaught and Meath; it is also widely spread through
    England and Scotland. This party was not included in my
    friend’s estimate. It is most important that we get into direct
    communication with it, for by it we could cripple England, by
    attacking her at home in her large towns. The fear of such a
    contingency would force her to grant us peace after a short
    struggle. All these matters must be looked to.

    The news from these states has been rather more promising
    during the past week. The organization is extending rapidly,
    though as yet but little money has come in since I left.
    Boston is the best city I have on my roll. In it a full centre
    is now almost completed. What I like best about its members
    is that they do their work systematically, each sub-centre
    sending weekly the regular dues. A list has been also opened
    there for the contributions of men who will not be initiated.
    Branches of our society have been also started in Vermont,
    Maine and Connecticut. From Pennsylvania I have received a
    most satisfactory communication from the Railroad men. If
    the plan proposed by them is well carried out, it will bring
    overwhelming numbers into our ranks. I will speak more about it
    when I meet you.

    In Milwaukee and Chicago, I expect that great things will be
    done under the auspices of Mr. Lumsden, whom you may know. The
    result of the late trials will, I hope, excite our countrymen
    to work everywhere. It is our first triumph, and, though but a
    partial one, it has proved that our home organization is almost

    Present my compliments to your brother, Mr. Edmund Sullivan. I
    felt greatly disappointed at not having seen him again at my
    office previous to his late departure from this city. Tell him
    that the brothers in New York are beginning to exert themselves
    more earnestly than of late. On yesterday, I had a very
    enthusiastic meeting of men who will work, if I mistake not.
    It is hard to get the mass of the Irish in New York to believe
    that any one can be serious who speaks of freeing Ireland. They
    have had their hopes disappointed, when raised to the highest
    pitch, twice or three times within the five years I have been
    here. Then, the majority of them are mere dupes of designing
    politicians who scoff at the notion that any one could be so
    green as to hope for Ireland. But this must soon cease. True
    men are beginning to see that we are really in earnest, and
    they will not much longer heed the sneers which the venal and
    corrupt have always at hand for every noble and disinterested

        I remain, dear sir,

            Yours very faithfully,

                                                         JOHN O’MAHONY.

That letter was written in the year 1859. This is the year 1897. Nigh
forty years ago. For any hope of Ireland’s freedom in my day, I would,
before my God, rather see Ireland as it was that day, than as it is
to-day. That day, there were no weeds in the field. To-day the field
is nothing but weeds--with the patriots of the day grazing on them--to
free Ireland; growing fat and contented on them, too; satisfied they’ll
be able to arrive at freedom in the _next_ generation. Go b’hfoire Dia

I bring into my book that letter of John O’Mahony’s that it may live in
the history of Fenianism, to stand against what may be said about the
movement being opposed to the Church.

The demonstrations about the McManus funeral in Cork and Dublin,
demonstrated to the English in Ireland that the spirit of rebellion was
strong in the land; and all the English agencies of business were set
to work to destroy it. Clerks were discharged from business; licenses
to carry on business were refused; the man who was in business found
that his credit was stopped, if he didn’t stop his politics--in a word
many had to stop, and had to prepare to leave the country. All through
the years 1862 and 1863, this fight was going on, and continued on,
from the start of the Irish People newspaper in November, ’63, up to
the suppression of that paper, and the suspension of the habeas corpus
act in September, ’65. During those three years, John O’Mahony kept
saying that it had a bad effect on the spirit of the organization in
America, that so many men belonging to the organization in Ireland
were leaving Ireland. James Stephens kept telling him, he could not
help it, that they had to leave; that they were among the best of his
men--making themselves so active, zealous and independent, that they
became marked men. While it broke his heart to have them be obliged
to go, he could not refuse giving them the few words of introduction
to some friend in New York that they asked for when they were leaving
Ireland. I have some of the letters of those times. When I show you
five or six of them, you will be able to judge of the spirit of the
times, and of the condition of things that was to be met with in those

Here--the first letter that comes to my hand, is a letter of Florry
Roger’s. Shall I put it aside? No, no; Florry Roger has a place in my
memory, and must have a place in my book. I met him a few times, and
met a noble man. He was arrested as one of the Phœnix men when he was
a medical student in Killarney. After release from prison, he went to
Dublin and got employed in a drug store in Queen street. He died the
following year. This is the relic of his I hold:

                              NO. 46 QUEEN ST., DUBLIN, 8th Nov., 1861.

    MY DEAR O’DONOVAN--I casually learned by some paper that you
    were in town. I slindged over to the Shelbourne Hotel to-day
    thinking to get a glimpse at you, but I was informed by Mr.
    Generally-useful, that you did not put up there. I therefore
    address this to Colonel Doheny for you--being in my opinion the
    surest means of arriving at the knowledge of your whereabouts.
    As I am anxious to see you, will you do me the favor of calling
    over here to-morrow, that we may have a chat together on the
    state of the weather, and crops in the South.

        Oblige your very faithful,

                                                  F. R. O’SULLIVAN, JR.

    The O’Donovan Rossa, care of Col. Doheny, Shelbourne Hotel,
    Kildare Street.

Next is a letter from William O’Carroll, who was one of the centres in
Cork city:

                                                    CORK, Oct. 10, ’61.

    MY DEAR O’DONOVAN--Something has come to my ears lately. It
    may be no harm to give you a wrinkle on the matter. Sir John
    Arnott is negotiating with John McAuliffe about his house
    and stock in Skibbereen. It seems that the latter is your
    next-door neighbor, and your landlord, and that the former has
    your mansion taken, too. My friend in the house was telling me
    that Sir John, and Grant and McAuliffe and a few others had
    a kick-up about many things--not the least of which was your
    castle.… You now see the position of things. You will certainly
    come up to the funeral. I will be glad to have a chat with you
    then. We are making every preparation we can. I am, your friend,

                                                     WILLIAM O’CARROLL.

That William O’Carroll had to leave Cork next year, 1862. He went to
Australia. With him, went another centre, James O’Mahony, who kept a
draper’s store in Bandon. The two wanted me to go with them. I didn’t
go. This is one of O’Mahony’s letters:

                                                  CORK, March 15, 1862.

    MY DEAR O’DONOVAN--I suppose you expected to hear from me ere
    this. I have spent the greater portion of the past fortnight
    in Cork City, but will be returning to Bandon on next Monday.
    I had hoped that either myself or my wife, or both, would have
    paid you a visit to Skibbereen ere this, but the weather was
    so unfavorable that we could not attempt moving. They are
    making great preparations for the annual ball here. ’Tis likely
    I’ll not make my appearance there at all, though at first, I
    was determined on going. Still, all things considered, I think
    it better not to go.

        Your friend,

                                                        JAMES O’MAHONY.

Twenty-two years afterward, 1884, I had a letter from Melbourne, from
James O’Mahony. Here are some passages of it:

    “I do not think where’er thou art,
    Thou hast forgotten me.”

    MY DEAR ROSSA--I wrote to you three times since we last met
    last at the Rock mills. I have often thought of your farewell
    words after I took your photograph from you that early morning
    in Patrick street: “No ship that was ever built should take us
    away from Ireland.”

        Yours as ever, go dilis,

                          JAMES O’MAHONY, Seamas laidir Ua Maghthamhna.

    Go bhfeiceadsa an la go mbeidh raas air an Sagsanach.
    A luingeas dha mbath, air lar na fairge.

John Lynch who, five years after, died in the next ward to me in a
London prison, was an officer of that banquet committee in Cork City,
Patrick’s day, 1862. He sent me this letter of invitation:

               NATIONAL READING ROOMS, TUCKEY ST., CORK, Feb. 26, 1862.

    MY DEAR SIR--I am directed by the committee to ask your
    attendance as a guest at our Soiree and Ball in the Atheneum on
    St. Patrick’s night, to celebrate our National festival.

    Trusting that you will make it your convenience to attend,
    and awaiting the favor of a reply, I am, dear sir, yours very

                                                            JOHN LYNCH.

    Mr. O’Donovan Rossa, Skibbereen.

I went to the banquet. Jerrie Hodnett, of Youghal, presided. Father
Ned Mulcahy, Timoleague, delivered an address in the Irish language,
and Brian Dillon raised the roof off the house singing “O’Donnell
Aboo” and “Is truadh gan oighre ’nar bhfarradh.” Father Ned is dead.
Riding by his side at a funeral one day, he told me, he had had his
parishioners ready to start into the field with him in ’48, if there
was any fighting going on anywhere. He was one good Irish priest. Oh,
yes; I believe there are lots of good Irish priests who aren’t known
to be good, but who would show themselves good if the people were any
good. When people show themselves slaves, it is not the duty of priests
to make soldiers of them. It is not for such work as that, that men are
ordained priests.

Brian Dillon died in prison. I have here a letter of introduction that
he gave Michael O’Brien, the Manchester Martyr, to John O’Mahony, when
Mike was leaving Cork in 1862. I may as well let you see it; blessed
are the words of the brave dead:

                                                 CORK, 23d April, 1862.

    DEAR SIR--I had the pleasure of introducing the bearer, Mr.
    Michael O’Brien to you, the evening you visited the National
    Reading-room in Cork. He was the Secretary of that room, and
    was since ’58 an active, zealous brother and “B” of mine. He
    will himself tell you the reason of his visit to America, where
    he is so well known as to make this introduction of mine quite

    The news of the Colonel Doheny’s death has caused a wide-spread
    feeling of sorrow here. I trust in God, should his remains be
    ever brought over to Ireland, their landing will be the signal
    for that resurrection of the old land for which he labored
    so earnestly and well. All friends here deeply sympathize
    with Mrs. Doheny in the loss she has sustained, and it ought
    assuredly be a consolation to her to know that in the hour of
    her affliction, thousands of the truest in the old land have
    offered up their prayers for the repose of the soul of the
    eloquent, noble-hearted man and patriot who was her husband.

    Mr. O’Brien will tell you all about the departure of Messrs.
    O’Carroll and O’Mahony to Queensland.

        Fraternally yours,

                                                          BRIAN DILLON.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                      29th April, 1862.

    DEAR SIR--As you will perceive by date at the head of this,
    Mr. O’Brien has remained here a week longer than he at first
    intended. This delay has enabled me to communicate with
    Skibbereen. Donal Oge (Dan McCartie,) sends by him a letter to
    you. You will have read in the _Irishman_ before this Rossa’s
    letter. Its terseness and pointedness has settled the whole
    thing. * * * * * * *

    Another “B” of mine, William Walsh, of Cloyne, accompanies Mr.
    O’Brien. He is a shipwright and is compelled to emigrate, there
    being no work for his trade in Cork. He is an honest, earnest
    young man; he intends joining the Phœnix Brigade, in the hope
    of learning something that he could turn to good account,
    should opportunity ever offer here.

        Fraternally and faithfully yours,

                                                             B. DILLON.

I have not printed the whole of that letter. Where I make star-marks:
* * *, reference is made to some newspaper fighting I was engaged in
at the time. Nearly every one belonging to the fight is dead--except
myself--and I don’t want to keep it up in these “Recollections” of mine.

Michael O’Brien comes before me again, in a letter of introduction he
has to John O’Mahony from Mr. O’Connell. These are the words of it:

                                                   CORK, May 1st, 1862.

    BELOVED BROTHER--This will be handed to you by brother Michael
    O’Brien, who has held on here as long as he possibly could.
    He has been out of employment for the last five months; and
    you can conceive what he mentally endured all the time. Seeing
    he could get nothing to do here, he at last resolved to turn
    his face to New York, in the hope of better fortune. Above all
    things, he desires to acquire military knowledge in the Phœnix
    Brigade. He will tell you, himself, why he was first thrown out
    of employment; and you can rely upon what he says, as he is
    genuine unsophisticated honesty itself, and as firm as a rock.

        Yours fraternally and affectionately,

                                                    CHAS. U. O’CONNELL.

This is a letter of introduction brought from Mr. Stephens to Mr.
O’Mahony by a Drogheda man. I knew him; but as I do not know whether
he is living or dead--in Ireland or America--desiring the honor of
publication or not, I do not print his name. I print the letter to show
that Drogheda was not behind-hand in the organization at the time:

                                                       Tuesday, May 26.

    BROTHER--The bearer, Mr. ---- ----, of Drogheda, is compelled,
    through the oppression of his employer to seek a temporary home
    in the States. I regret his going, as he has proved himself a
    good workman, having as B., enrolled certainly fifty men in his
    native place. He, of course, is anxious to see you. He does
    not, however, expect a commission, or anything else that I am
    aware of, save only to know you and be placed under you, as our
    head in the States. Nothing of consequence has occurred since
    Chas. O’Connell left.

        Yours fraternally,

                                                              J. KELLY.

The following is part of a letter of introduction brought from James
Stephens to John O’Mahony by John, the brother of Brian Dillon:

                                                   CORK, June 11, 1862.

    BROTHER--The bearer, Mr. John Dillon, has done the work of a B.
    This alone should be a strong recommendation. He is, moreover,
    a brother of Mr. Brian Dillon, one of our staunchest and most
    effective A’s. He leaves in search of work (he is a ship
    carpenter), which cannot possibly be had here. The pagan knows
    him well; anybody can see that he is the stuff of a soldier.

    A word about the men who have already gone out, or who may
    go out in time to come, I deem it necessary to say something
    about them as, owing to your complaints on the subject (to me
    and others in Dublin, but especially to parties here), a bad
    feeling has been created--a feeling calculated to do serious
    injury, if not properly explained. Neither I nor the parties
    going out expect any assistance from you or our friends--they
    have all gone, and mean to go on what you call “their own
    hook.” To insinuate, much more to state unequivocally, that you
    fear their becoming a burden upon you, is keenly hurtful to
    these men. It is painful, too, to these men, to find themselves
    criticized for doing what they cannot help. Your having written
    here to this effect would have prevented several of these men
    from calling on you; and finding no proper party to communicate
    with, they would probably write home to say that we are nowhere
    in New York. You must see at a glance, the consequence of this.
    Of course, if I send a special message to New York, it will be
    only fair to see to his personal wants. But I have sent no such
    man since my return to Ireland.

    No sooner did I find myself in possession of even limited means
    than I took the old track once more. I left Dublin on the 31st
    of May, and have since visited the counties of Kildare, Carlow,
    Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford, on to Cork. I could not now
    do justice to the firmness of all our friends; but such is my
    faith in them that I can surely defy, not only the clique but
    all influences whatever. Our position here is all that heart of
    man could wish. I speak for what I have already seen, and doubt
    not that my whole course shall give the same results. Much new
    ground has been broken, and the old soil is being tilled to
    its best. Here in Cork I cannot help saying a few words about
    O’Carroll. I can find no extenuating circumstances in his case;
    at least, I have been unable to find any, up to this.

        Yours fraternally,

                                                              J. MASON.

Well, I don’t know; I only know that William O’Carroll, of Cork City,
and James O’Mahony of Bandon were two of the first men in the south
of Ireland that Mr. Stephens got into the organization; that it was
through them he got introduced to Dan McCartie and O’Donovan Rossa
in Skibbereen, and that they worked hard in the organization for some
time. They might have cooled down a little after the arrests; I know
they felt as if they had been deserted, or left to themselves, the time
that I and my companions were in Cork Jail. In the Australian letter
of James O’Mahony from which I quoted before, there is another passage
I may quote. He says “You know my funds were always at the command of
‘Seabhac’--(Shouk--the Hawk,) and that as long as I had a red cent, it
was forthcoming. The amount was large as you may know.” I know, that
in the first years of the organization, many men in many counties of
Ireland, spent their own money organizing. I don’t like to see a bad
word said of any one of them, who might have broken down under the work.

James Mountaine is dead. In honor to the memory of one of the
Protestant National Irishmen of Cork City, I will publish this letter
of introduction that he brought from James Stephens to John O’Mahony:

                                                 DUBLIN, Oct. 27, 1863.

    BROTHER--The bearer, Mr. James Mountaine, is a friend, though
    paying but a flying visit to America (he is going to see his
    son, a surgeon in New York, and will stay but six weeks or so
    in the States), it would grieve him to leave, without taking
    your hand in his. When in yours, you should grasp that hand
    firmly, for it is that of as brave and true an Irishman as
    you know. He is one of the few who, with a good deal to lose,
    as the saying is, still clings to the cause as of old--nay,
    as years and prospects increase, they but add to his zeal and
    devotion. He is one of the few, too, who are sure to rally
    round me in times of trial--whose friendship is shown at need,
    in better coin than words. It is now some time since I asked
    you for a favor. In the present instance I do so, and request
    that you will show Mr. Mountaine all the consideration in your
    power. All that he expects and would accept, is that you should
    receive him as a brother, and speak of him as a man who is
    at all times ready to fight or die for Ireland. For my part,
    I would gladly go out of my way, to meet and welcome, and be
    a brother to such a man. Mr. Mountaine would, I am sure, be
    delighted to see some of our military friends in their element;
    and, should an opportunity offer, I bespeak for Mr. Mountaine
    every attention you can pay him. Yours as ever, fraternally,

                                                              J. POWER.

This extract of a letter from Stephens to O’Mahony, April, 1862, is

    The Dublin organization has nearly trebled within the last
    three months. And as it is in Dublin, so it is elsewhere.
    Our doctrine alone has life in it. The very class we found
    it so hard to reach till this year--the farming class, are
    now craving for our approach. But with all this, there is so
    strong a desire for intelligence--for frequent communication
    with _me_--that whatever the risk and inconvenience, I must go
    amongst them. In England and Scotland as well as at home, I am
    called for clamorously. In the name of God and of Liberty,
    will our friends yonder ever rise to a sense of duty, and
    the want of the hour. I should forget everything did they
    give me but three months uninterrupted work now. What might
    I not do! Then, as already said, I could go to America with
    such credentials as no Irishman ever brought there before me.
    The results produced here, together with my knowledge--or
    belief--of what is in me, lead me to the conviction that my
    toil yonder shall produce necessary fruits. I have never heard,
    nor can I ever conceive, anything to shake this faith in
    myself, and in my countrymen in America.

                                                                  J. S.

One morning in Skibbereen, I got a letter from James Stephens, asking
me to send Patrick Downing to him to Paris. I went to Pat Downing’s
house, he was in bed, I ordered him to get out of bed and go on to
Paris. I asked him where was the parcel of letters I gave him to put in
hiding for me. His father was building a house next door. He showed me
a stone in an angle of the wall. “The letters are inside that stone,”
he said. Very likely they are there this day I am writing. Patrick J.
Downing had been in America in 1853, and came back home about 1855.
When the Stephens organization started in 1858, he became the most
expert at learning drill from the drill-master that James Stephens sent
down to instruct us. When that drill-master, Owens, left us, Patrick
became our instructor. He was arrested as one of the Phœnix men in
December, 1858. He was in the dock with me, in presence of Judge Keogh,
in the Cork Court house, Patrick’s Day, 1859. I find him bringing
a letter from James Stephens to John O’Mahony, bearing the date of
“Paris, 5th of March.” The year must be the year 1860. This is the
first paragraph of it:

                                                      PARIS, 5th March.

    BROTHER--This will be given you by Patrick Downing, one of the
    “State prisoners.” He is a townsman and particular friend--a
    blood relation too--of Donal Oge (McCartie,) who, should I
    forget to bespeak bearer a cordially honorable reception, would
    not fail to secure it from him.

    Indeed bearer is of the stuff that recommends itself, and
    should give you a high opinion of the manhood of his district;
    for, what but a high opinion can you form of a district, the
    sub-centres of which are all like my friend, Mr. Downing. He
    has been by my side for the last fortnight; and every day has
    raised him more and more in my estimation. I answer for it:
    Circumstances shall not swerve _him_ from what he believes
    a high and holy duty. Receive _him_ then, in all earnest
    brotherhood--be a real brother and a friend to him.

                                                        JAMES STEPHENS.

Patrick J. Downing learned the drill of a soldier, by moonlight, on the
hillsides of Ireland. So did three of his brothers. The four of them
gave their services as soldiers in the American war; Denis, as captain
of a company in a Buffalo regiment, losing a leg at the battle of
Gettysburg. Patrick rose to the command of Colonel in the Forty-second
New York (Tammany) Regiment.

He died in Washington a dozen years ago. I went to Washington to his
funeral. After the requiem mass, the priest who celebrated the mass,
spoke some words to his memory. I could not help thinking--sadly
thinking, how the Irish race are scattered, and how strangely they
sometimes meet; far, far away from home!

Colonel Downing and Father Nunan were no blood relations; but here was
I between them; the dead soldier--the grandson of my father’s sister;
and the priest--the grandson of my grandfather’s sister.



In the summer time of the year 1862 something occurred that brought
me face to face with the English landlord garrison of the South of
Ireland; something showed me the spirit of exterminating the old Irish
race, that possesses some of these landlords. Rumors reached Skibbereen
in the month of May that much distress prevailed in the islands of
Sherkin and Cape Clear--Innis Cleire--“the island of the clergy”; that
the people were dying of starvation. Special messengers from the island
waited on the Skibbereen Board of Guardians, and pressed for immediate
relief. A committee of the Board, consisting of McCarthy Downing,
Martin Jennings and James Murray, were appointed to take the matter in
hand. They resolved to send a ton of meal into the islands immediately.
The regular relieving officer, James Barry--Shemus Leathan, as he was
called--was old and infirm; it was necessary to get an active man who
would act temporarily as relieving officer, and act immediately; Mr.
Downing sent for me, and asked me to undertake the work; that a boat
with four men was at the quay that would take us in to the islands with
a ton of meal. I told him I certainly would go on such a mission. I
called on a neighbor of mine, Michael O’Driscoll, to go with me, and
he readily assented. We got the meal on board the boat that night and
next morning we set sail for the islands.

The first island I met was the island of Sherkin--that island of which
Thomas Davis sings:

    “Old Inis-Sherkin’s crumbled fane looks like a moulting bird;
    And in a calm and sleepy swell the ocean tide is heard.”

The boatman told us that the distress was greater in Innis Cleire than
in Innis Sherkin; that the people in the farther off island were dying
of starvation, and that it would be better for us to go on to Cape
Clear first. We accordingly decided to do so; and we decided to land
three sacks of the meal in Sherkin, for distribution there next day on
our return from the Cape.

It was a beautiful summer evening; the boat was steered into a little
shingly cove; a man was stretched on a grassy bank, as if asleep; we
called him to help us to take the sacks ashore; he turned his head high
enough to look, and lay back upon the grass again--taking no further
notice of us. I leaped ashore, and found that the man was unable to
stand on his legs; he was dying of hunger--a man named O’Driscoll, over
six feet, and about twenty-six years of age.

My wife had thought I would be out on the islands for a few days, and
she had sandwiched up as much food for me as would feed me for a week;
Michael O’Driscoll’s wife had done the same for him; we took our lunch
baskets from the boat, laid them before the hungry man, and left him to
help himself while we were landing the meal into the house of a Mrs.
Hughes near by. We made a fatal mistake; we were accessory to the
death of the starving man; he had eaten more than was good for him; he
was dead when we returned to the island next day.

We got into Cape Clear about nine o’clock in the evening. News had
reached there that we were coming. Father Collins was on the strand,
with conveyance to take the meal to his house, near by. We distributed
some of it that night; the priest sent word through the island to have
the poor people be at his house next morning to take their share of the
relief. We had supper and sleep at Father Collins’s, and next morning
before breakfast we distributed the meal.

We brought with us a gallon measure, and a half-gallon measure. A
gallon holds about seven pounds of meal, and we were to distribute
our relief as nearly as we could within the bounds of the Poor Law
Outdoor-relief regulations--giving no single individual more than three
and a half pounds of meal.

When we had supplied the relief to all that called, we had about a
hundred pounds of meal left. We decided to leave it at Father Collins’s
until we would call again, which we expected to be the following week.

After breakfast, Father Collins took us to see a bed-ridden woman who
was living in a cleft of a rock on a hill back of his house. He went
on his hands and knees getting into her house; I went in after him in
the same fashion; and there was the poor woman stretched upon flag
stones covered with heath. She could not sit up to cook the measure
of meal that we gave to a neighboring poor woman for her. Father
Collins suggested that as we had some of the meal left, it would be
no harm to give this neighboring poor woman an extra measure of it in
consideration of her attendance upon the sick woman. We acted upon the
suggestion, and gave the extra measure. I lost my job by doing so.
Further on, I will come to the story of it.

Father Collins accompanied us to the other end of the island to take
the boat for Sherkin. The walk was about three miles. We entered many
houses on the way. Some of them had flags for doors--the wooden doors
having been burned for firing. In one house were five or six children;
one of them was dead--evidently dead from starvation. I reported that
case of death to the first coroner I could communicate with when I
reached the mainland; an inquest was held and the coroner’s jury
brought in a verdict of: “Death from starvation.”

On Thursday, Board day, the following week, I gave in my report to
the Skibbereen Board of Guardians. The landlords of the islands--the
Beechers--were there. They are what is called “ex-officio
guardians”--that is, guardians of the poor by virtue of their
possessing the lands of the poor--for the O’Driscolls owned the lands
of Sherkin and Cape Clear till the Beechers came and swindled them out
of these lands, as I will show you by Irish history, by and by.

The John Wrixon Beecher who was in the Skibbereen Board room that day
that I gave in the report of my visit to the island is the Beecher that
was married to Lady Emily Hare, the daughter of Lord Ennismore. He
scrutinized every item of my report; and he asked for a postponement of
its full consideration until another Board day. That Board day, he was
on hand with all his friends; he laid hold of that item of my having
given the extra measure of meal to the bed-ridden woman; he declared it
to be a violation of the Poor Law Rules and Regulations; he proposed
that I be dismissed from the situation of temporary relieving officer;
that I get no salary for the time I served, and that I be made to pay
out of my own pocket for the extra measure of meal I illegally gave

The fight on that subject continued for four or five weeks, during
which time I visited the islands four or five times.

McCarthy Downing was in a fix. He was the land-agent of much of the
Beecher estate; but his heart was with the people. I wrote to the
Guardians and the Poor Law Commissioners some letters at the time, and
in the copies of the letters before me now, I see McCarthy Downing’s
pencil-writing, toning down some expression of mine, and substituting
words of his for words of mine. I told him I would take the case into
court, and sue the Guardians for three months’ salary. He said he could
not act as my attorney, but advised me to employ Chris. Wallace or Tom
Wright. I did so, and I got a decree against the Guardians for the
quarter’s salary.

This story in my recollections will be better understood by my giving
you to read the following letters which I wrote at the time:

                                              SKIBBEREEN, May 28, 1862.


    GENTLEMEN--On Friday, the 23d inst., I left at 12 o’clock
    noon, with one ton of meal, for distribution among the poor
    of Cape Clear and Sherkin Islands. I arrived in Sherkin about
    3 o’clock, and left seven and a half cwt. of the meal at the
    house of Dan Minihane. I made arrangements to have word sent
    to all the poor whose names were taken down by Mr. Barry,
    that they may attend next day. I then proceeded toward Cape
    Clear with twelve and a half cwt. of the meal, but did not
    land before half-past seven o’clock, as the weather was most

    That evening and next morning I gave eleven cwt., two
    quarters and eleven lbs. of meal to 81 families numbering 225
    individuals. Among those are five or six farmers with families,
    apparently in the greatest destitution--who would not go into
    the poorhouse. In the house of one--Thomas Regan of Lisamona--a
    child was dead, and from her wretched appearance I considered
    she died from want and starvation. I left undistributed in
    Cape Clear about one cwt. of meal. I came to Sherkin Island on
    Saturday, and distributed the three sacks of meal I left there
    the previous day, among 53 heads of families, and single old
    infirm persons, numbering 172 individuals. About 40 were left
    unsupplied with any, and I requested some of those supplied to
    assist the others until I could come again. It is, of course,
    possible that in discharging so urgent a duty, and so promptly,
    some mistake might have been made; but I did my best.

    The people appeared more wretched and distressed in Cape Clear
    than in Sherkin. In both places many of them said they may not
    want poor-law relief long, as they had hope that Father Leader
    would return with money to get fishing gear for them, which
    would be a means of affording them remunerative employment,
    and permanent relief. The entire number relieved are 397
    individuals, comprising 139 heads of families and single

        Yours respectfully,

                                                  JER. O’DONOVAN-ROSSA.

The following is a copy of a bill I sent in to the Board of Guardians,
with accompanying letter:



    To salary as relieving officer, per
    appointment by a committee of
    the Board of Guardians, for three
    months                            £12 00 00

    To boat hire for second week          10 00
                                      £12 10 00

    GENTLEMEN--As you have appointed a relieving officer in my
    place, I believe you are all under the impression that my
    services are virtually at an end. As this is the day, then, for
    paying the officers, I put in my bill. I have heard it said
    I would get only a fortnight’s salary, though the situation
    has yet involved me in five weeks’ attendance upon you, and I
    believe will occupy more of my time.

    If you are disposed to give me only a fortnight’s salary, I
    shall claim my right to the entire three months’ salary, as
    per appointment; and then, I think I can show what has so
    often been talked of at the Board, that my discontinuance in
    office was owing to a cry of politics gotten up against me, and
    against the committee who appointed me--a cry unworthy to be
    raised, where the discharge of a duty to the suffering poor was
    alone involved. I remain, gentlemen,

         Respectfully yours,

                                                  JER. O’DONOVAN ROSSA.

Here is a letter I wrote to the Poor Law Commissioners, Dublin, at the

                                              SKIBBEREEN, June 7, 1862.


    GENTLEMEN--On the 22d of last month a committee of the
    Skibbereen Board of Guardians requested me to go into
    the islands of Cape and Sherkin with one ton of meal to
    distribute among the destitute poor people there, whose
    names were previously taken down by Mr. James Barry in his
    application-book and report book--which names I copied. I went
    with all possible haste, and distributed the meal. I returned,
    and, according to the instructions of the clerk of the Union,
    placed the names of the recipients on the register. He then
    gave me a “statistical report book,” directing me to enter
    the cases in the columns of the first section of the act. I
    found that this section contained no column for many of those
    I relieved; and, seeing that they were relievable under the
    second section of the act, I placed them in its columns.

    I was not in presence of the Clerk of the Board while doing
    this; nor was I told that a resolution was passed by the Board
    to the effect that none should be relieved except those coming
    under the first section.

    Before going into the islands I called on the clerk for
    a book of instructions; but he had none. I called to the
    committee; they had none. But they gave me a copy of the Poor
    Law Commissioners’ circulars of the year 1848 or thereabouts.
    Receiving those, to act by them as part of my instructions,
    it is not to be wondered at if I relieved parties who did not
    come under the first section of the act. It is true I gave a
    little meal to five or six small farmers--but their families
    were apparently in the most wretched state of destitution. In
    the house of one, I saw a dead child, who, I believe, died
    from want of the necessaries of life. _That_, a coroner’s jury
    subsequently affirmed. The father of the child would not go to
    the poorhouse. I gave the apparently starving family a little
    meal--as I could do according to my instructions. But the lord
    of the soil comes forward in the Board room yesterday, and the
    previous Board day, with a statement on paper to the effect
    that out-door relief was not wanted in the islands--signed by
    the tenants, including the father of the deceased child--he the
    lord of the soil, saying, that the relieving officer, or some
    other person, must be held accountable for meal given to any
    person not coming under the first section of the act.

    I certainly acted in ignorance of the resolution previously
    passed at the Board. And, if I knew it, it is as certain that
    I would not go into the islands, fettered up in such a manner.
    But I thought, from all that I had seen and heard of the
    existing distress, and from the statements made by Sir Robert
    Peel in Parliament, and his replies to various deputations,
    that the commissioners had unlocked all the sections and
    clauses of the Poor Law act, and directed the guardians of the
    different Unions to avail of them, and to put on them the most
    liberal construction for the relief of the destitute poor.

    The clerk of the Union has returned the statistical book to me,
    telling me it is not properly filled; that he cannot receive it
    unless all the cases are relieved under the first section of
    the act. Under all these circumstances, I respectfully refer to
    you for instructions as to how I am to satisfy the clerk, or
    otherwise act.

    It seems I am no longer the Guardians’ Relieving Officer. They
    appointed another yesterday, though the committee who appointed
    me led me to understand I would hold the situation for three

    For the truth of that statement, you may refer to that

    I would not seek such a situation; but having been requested to
    discharge its duties, in a pressing emergency, I do not like to
    be set aside for having done so, efficiently.

    To be candid with you, I believe I incurred the displeasure
    of most of the landlord guardians on account of my having
    reported the child’s death to the coroner of the district, and
    they immediately cried out that my appointment was political,
    and resolved to cancel it. I remain, gentlemen, your obedient

                                                  JER. O’DONOVAN ROSSA.

I have made the remark that the Beechers of a few hundred years ago,
swindled themselves into the lands of the O’Driscolls in Cape and
Sherkin and other islands of “Carbery’s hundred isles.” Not only that,
but they and their descendants since, have been trying to wipe out the
old Irish stock entirely. It is not agreeable to have around you people
you have plundered, and reduced to pauperism and starvation. Doctor Dan
O’Donovan, in his sketches of Carbery, says:

“In a copy of an inquisition taken in Ross Carbery in the year 1608,
all the various lordships, royalties, rents and dues are detailed, and
the boundaries strictly defined of the country or cantred of Collymore,
called O’Driscoll’s country. It contained 65 plough-lands--39½ on the
mainland and 25½ in the islands. The names of their castles would also
indicate the flourishing conditions of the occupants, viz, Dun-na-sead,
which means the castle of the Jewels, and Dun-an-oir, the golden fort.

“Walter Coppinger had been an arbitrator in deciding a dispute
regarding landed property between Sir Fineen O’Driscoll and a relative
of his named Fineen Catharach. Coppinger got an order out of Chancery
against the heirs of O’Driscoll. Coppinger, after the justices had
issued a commission to Sir William Hull, Mr. Henry Beecher and Mr.
Barham to examine into the case, made a private contract with Beecher,
and granted him a lease of the whole.”

And so, the juggling went on, till the O’Driscolls came in to be pauper
tenants in their own lands, and the Beechers came in to be millionaire
landlords over them.



The life of my early manhood is full of my acquaintance with John
O’Donovan, the great Irish scholar; and when now--forty years after
that acquaintance--I am writing my “recollections,” it would not be
right to pass the old times by, and pass the old friends by, without
saying a word about them. I will, therefore, devote this chapter to
the letters of John O’Donovan that are here before me. When writing
to me he used to touch upon all subjects: Genealogy, politics, public
men, history, seanachus, sinsearacht, his family, his friends and his
children. His son Edmond, whom I knew when he was a child, and who,
when grown into manhood, became active and prominent in the Fenian
movement, and active and prominent as a war correspondent in Asia and
Africa, for the London journals--killed in the Soudan, or some other
expedition--will be recognized in these letters of his father that I
am going to show you. I will also show you, at the end of the chapter,
three letters of Edmond’s own.

The old Dublin _Penny Journal_ of my boyhood days was a very
interesting journal to read. In it were papers on Irish genealogy,
written by John O’Donovan. I was interested in the genealogy of my own
name, and in the nickname of “Rossa” attached to it; because it it was
only in whispers, my father and the families of his five uncles who
lived in the town, would speak that nickname--though all the neighbors
around called them “Muintir-a-Rossa.” The secret of the privacy was
this: The nickname came to the family from their having owned the
lands around Rossmore some generations before that, and from their
having been deprived of those lands because they would not change their
religion and go to church. The Hungerfords and the Townsends and the
Bernards and the other “people of Quality” around, were in possession
of those lands now; my people were defeated in the battle for their
rights; they were allowed, here and there, by the Cromwellians, to live
as tenants on their own lands, but if they stuck to the name “Rossa,”
which the people gave them, it would imply that they held fast to the
desire “to have their own again,”--and that was a desire they did not
want to make manifest.

Reading John O’Donovan’s papers in the _Penny Journal_, I took it in my
head to write to him. I have not a copy of the letter I wrote, but the
nature of it may be judged by this letter of reply that I received from

                                    DUBLIN, NO. 36 UPPER BUCKINGHAM ST.
                                                   December 24th, 1854.

    DEAR SIR--It amused me very much to learn that you have taken
    me for a Protestant! I have not the honor of having had one
    Protestant ancestor, from 1817 to 493, when St. Patrick cursed
    our ancestor Lonan, in the plain of Hy-Figenti. We have all
    remained unworthy members of the Church of Rome ever since!
    (The Protestant wives all turned to mass.) But I am sorry to
    think, and to be obliged to confess that we have not been a
    pious, wise or prudent race, and I am convinced that we are
    doomed to extinction.

    Many curses hang over us! (if curses have aught of force in
    modern times). Saint Patrick cursed Lonan in 493; the holy
    Columb MacKerrigan, Bishop of Cork, cursed our progenitor
    Donovan (from whom we all descend), and our names Donovanides,
    in the year 976, in the most solemn manner that any human being
    ever was cursed or denounced; and, so late as 1654, a good
    and pious Protestant woman’s family (the children of Dorothy
    Ford), cursed Daniel O’Donovan of Castle Donovan, and caused
    a “braon-sinshir,” or corroding drop, to trickle from a stone
    arch in Castle Donovan, which will never cease to flow till the
    last of the race of the said Daniel O’Donovan is extinct. It
    appears, from the depositions in Trinity College, Dublin, that
    the said Daniel O’Donovan and Teige-a-Duna McCarthy hanged the
    said Dorothy Ford at Castle Donovan, to deprive her and her
    family of debts lawfully due unto them.

    You and I escape this last curse, but we reel under that
    pronounced by the Holy Columb (if indeed, its rage is not
    spent). God’s curse extends to the fifth generation, but I
    believe man’s goes further. But in addition to these ancient
    maledictions, I, and my unfortunate sept of Ida in Ossory labor
    under two other denunciations which hang over us like two

    I return you my warmest and best thanks for your kind
    invitation to Skibbereen, and hope to make a tour thither next
    autumn, but I will not be very troublesome to you, as my stay
    will not be long.

    Wishing you many happy returns of this holy season, I remain
    yours truly,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

    To Mr. Jeremiah O’Donovan-Rossa.

I have about thirty or forty of those letters of John O’Donovan,
written from the year 1854 to the year of his death, 1862. They are
very interesting to me and to men like me. They may never see the
light of day if I pass them by now. But, I cannot publish the whole of
them; I will run through them and show you the ones that I consider
interesting, as throwing some light on the character, the thoughts,
the opinions, and the genial family surroundings of the greatest Irish
scholar of this century. His next letter is this:

                                              DUBLIN, Dec. 31st, 1854.

    DEAR SIR--The old name of Castle Salem was Kilbritton. This
    castle was the chief residence of McCarthy-Reagh, by whom it
    was erected. The O’Donovans had nothing to do with this castle,
    notwithstanding the authority of the ignorant historian Dr.

    The Professor Donovan, who wrote the article on coffee in
    1834, is my friend Michael Donovan, of No. 11 Clare street,
    Dublin, who is a very distinguished chemist and member of our
    Royal Irish Academy, where he frequently reads papers on the
    most scientific subjects. He wrote several works which were
    published in Lardner’s Cyclopedia, on galvanism, chemistry,
    domestic economy, etc. He has made a discovery in chemical
    science which he has as yet failed to establish; that is,
    the process of turning water into gas. He was given up the
    Gas-house at Dover to test this discovery; the house got
    burned, for which he had to stand his trial; but he succeeded
    in proving that the house was burned by the workmen, who were
    prejudiced against him. His father was born at Kilmacow,
    near the River Suir, in the county of Kilkenny, within sight
    of where I was born. I was born in 1809 in the parish of
    Atateemore, in the barony of Ida, and county of Kilkenny.
    But we are not in any way related. His grandfather turned
    Protestant about the year 1750, since which period his family
    have been the wealthiest Donovans in Ireland, except perhaps,
    those of Ballymore, County Wexford.

    You may rely on it that “Felicitas Columba” knows nothing
    of the O’Donovans-Rossa except what I have published in the
    appendix to “The Annals of the Four Masters.” I have no
    sympathy with falsehood in any shape or form, and a lie (white,
    black or red,) coming from a minister of any religion, (which
    I am told “Felicitas” is), is doubly hideous. We have truths
    in vast abundance, and the discovery of them in history and
    science is a praiseworthy result of patient investigation;
    but no false assertion should be ventured upon. Truth will
    ultimately triumph over falsehood, and those who have attempted
    to sustain false assertions, are contemptible in the estimation
    of the honorable, and the lovers of true truth. Believe me to
    be yours sincerely,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

I here pass by some letters on genealogy, which may be considered
interesting only to myself and to my family name and connections, and
come on to this one:

                                                DUBLIN, 29th May, 1856.


    DEAR SIR--Please read the enclosed American letter and return
    to me. It is rather to show the spirit of the Irish mind
    in America. I would do anything in my power to encourage
    nationality, because we are becoming extinct very rapidly.

    I have it in contemplation to try and notice the three branches
    of our sept in the “Danish wars” to be published by Dr. Todd.
    I have furnished him with very many notes on other subjects
    and families, and I feel satisfied that he will insert what I
    intend to furnish him on the three septs of our family, namely,
    Clan-Cahill, MacEnesles and Clan-Loughlin. Of the first, Morgan
    O’Donovan, of Montpelier, Douglas, Cork, is decidedly the head
    and chief representative; of the second, either you or some one
    of your relatives; and of the third, my old friend Alexander
    O’Donovan, of Kilrush (if he be alive), or his next of kin.

    I am of a senior branch of the Clan-Cahill, and, as we always
    believed, descended from the eldest son, Donell O’Donovan, who
    died in 1638; but we lost our birthright by the crime of our
    ancestors, by the just decree of the laws of God and man, and
    we ought to be thankful for not having become extinct; for
    we are widely spread throughout Leinster and America, and we
    are likely to last to the end of time. Behold us all in the
    following table:

    1. Donal O’Donovan, married to Joanna McCarthy, of Castle
    Donovan, who died A. D., 1638.

    2. Edmond, married to Catharine de Burgo, killed 1643.

    3. Conor, married to Rose Kavanagh.

    4. William, married to Mary Oberlin, a Puritan, died 1749.

    5. Edmond, married to Mary Archdeacon, died 1798.

    6. Edmond, married to Ellen Oberlin, died 1817.

    7. John O’D. L.L. D., married to Mary Anne Broughton of
    Cromwellian descent.

    8. Edmond, born 1840, died 1842; John, living, born 1842;
    Edmond, living, born 1844; William, living, born 1846; Richard,
    living, born 1848; Henry, dead, 1850; Henry, born 1852, living;
    Daniel, living, 1856.

    Eight sons, without any daughter intervening, is a sort of
    effort of nature to preserve the name.

    I can hardly believe that Mr. John D’Alton will live long
    enough to bring out another edition of his book, because he is
    very old and feeble. I shall, however, write him a note on the
    subject of your branch of our sept Hy-Donovane, which I hope
    he will be tempted to print (if he prints at all), because
    one of them--Captain Donell Boy MacEnesles O’Donovan was very
    distinguished, and was restored to property under the Act of
    Settlement and Explanation. If he does not print it, I shall be
    on the lookout for some other national work in which to insert
    it. In the meantime, I hope you will now and again, write to
    me, and believe me to be your affectionate clansman,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

Next comes this letter:

                                                 DUBLIN, June 12, 1856.

    DEAR SIR--I have just received your letter dated 9th inst.,
    enclosing note from my neighbor John D’Alton, which I can
    hardly read, the handwriting is so unearthly. I did not pass
    through Skibbereen at the time you mention. So that you might
    have looked for me, but I fear you would have learned that I
    was in the North, among the Presbyterians. I am very glad that
    you have satisfied yourself that you are of the MacEnesles
    O’Donovans, (MacAneeis is the local name), because I had
    written in my published pedigree of the O’Donovans, before I
    ever had the honor of receiving any communication from you on
    the subject, the following sentence:

    “The editor has not been able to identify any living member of
    this sept,” (of MacEnesles).

    Aneslis, who was the second son of Crom O’Donovan, 1254,
    had four sons, Donogh More, Rickard, Walter and Randal, who
    became the founders of four distinct septs, who all bore the
    generic tribe-name of Clann Enesles, or MacAneeis, and whose
    territories are mentioned in various inquisitions, etc. The
    townland of Gortnascreena, containing three plough-lands
    (in the parish of Drimoleague), belonged in the year 1607 to
    the Sliocht Randal O’Donovan. In the same year the sept of
    MacEnesles possessed the townlands of Barnahulla, (now Butler’s
    gift), and also the lands of Meeny and Derryclough Lower, in
    the parish of Drinagh.

    On the 20th of August, 1632, Dermot MacTeige MacEnesles
    O’Donovan was possessed of the lands of Lisnabreeny, west of
    the parish of Glenawilling, or Kilmeen, and I take this Dermot
    to be your ancestor.

    If you descend from Dermot MacTeige MacEnesles, who lived at
    Lisnabreeny in 1632, and may have lived down to 1688, you do
    not want many generations in your line, with your present

    I will do all I can to fill up this chasm. You come of an older
    sept than Rickard O’Donovan, the clerk of the Crown. Yours ever

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

In reply to that letter, I wrote the following one to John O’Donovan, a
copy of which I find among my old Irish papers:

                                             SKIBBEREEN, June 14, 1856.

    DEAR SIR--I have received your welcome letter and am convinced
    beyond a doubt that I am descended from Dermot MacEnesles,
    who, as you say lived at Lisnabreeny in the year 1632.
    I made mention to you in one of my former letters, of a
    great-grandaunt’s daughter of mine, Nance Long, (that time
    living), who was a bit of a genealogist, and I am sorry that
    she forfeited my good opinion of her veracity, by telling me
    that her grandfather Teige a Rossa was a grandson of Teige
    MacAneeis, who lived in Glean-a-Mhuilin; and, as I thought
    there was no MacAneeis, but the first named, I believed her
    as much as I would believe a man of the present day who would
    tell me he was a grandson of Brian Boru. She also said it was
    her grandfather who first came from Kilmeen to the neighborhood
    of Ross Carbery, where her uncle Denis (my great-grandfather)
    married Sheela Ni Islean, or Julia O’Donovan-Island. She used
    to speak much on the downfall supposed to be brought upon the
    Rossa family on account of such an alliance. To use her own
    words, her “grandfather was deprived of all his land by the
    Cromwells; and the Donovan Islands, having come by riches some
    way, were glad to catch any of the family.”

    If you had any truthful correspondent about Ross, when editing
    your “Annals of the Four Masters,” he would or should have
    told you of my Clan-Donovan, my grandfather and five brothers
    of his (all with families), were then living at Milleenroe and
    Carrigagrianane. The names of these six brothers, Anglianized
    were: Jer, Denis, Conn, Dan, Flor and John. I was surprised
    they did not perpetuate the name of Teige, and on making
    inquiries to that effect, I learned that they had an uncle of
    the name who was a poet, was considered eccentric, and was
    known by the cognomen of Teige-na Veirsee; and they feared the
    eccentricity may follow the name. But the present generation
    (mostly now in America), have adopted it again.

    As you have helped me, down as far as Dermot, son of the above
    Teige MacEnesles, I will give you the descent from him, and if
    it agrees with the intervening time, there can be no reason to
    doubt its correctness.

    My father, Denis, was born about the year 1790, married in
    1818, and died in 1847. He was son of Jer, son of Denis, son of
    Teige. The old woman’s grandfather and his grandfather, being
    Teige MacEnesles, or Teige MacAneeis, he must have been the son
    of the Dermot MacTeige MacEnesles mentioned in your letter.
    Yours, ever obliged,

                                                  JER. O’DONOVAN-ROSSA.

That letter brought this reply:

                                                 DUBLIN, June 23, 1856.

    DEAR SIR--I have received yours of the 14th inst., and was glad
    to learn that there is a representative of the second branch
    of the O’Donovans, namely of MacEnesles, locally shortened to
    MacEneeis. I will prepare any note you like on this sept, and
    your descent therefrom for Mr. Alton’s second edition of his
    thick book on King James II.’s Army list, but I suppose he will
    want you to pay for giving it insertion.

    Mr. Windele, of Cork, tells a story about the O’Connells of
    Bally Carbery, in Kerry, which affords a fair specimen of the
    kind of family history given by “Felicitas Columba” and other
    writers like him.

    On one occasion, McCarthy More sent to the Castle of Bally
    Carbery for tribute, but the lord of the castle took the
    messenger and hanged him. Now who was O’Connell of Bally
    Carbery? He was McCarthy More’s constable, holding three acres
    of land, and the wardship of the castle.

    This description of history is truly disgraceful, in any
    country whose history is known. The Red Indians, who have
    no documents, may enjoy any stories of this kind that are
    consistent with their traditions; but the Irish have records
    which leave no room for fictions like that given by Windele.

    I met a young friend of yours in the college the other day,
    whose name is O’Mahony. He is a Protestant, but a very
    intelligent, nice young fellow.

        Yours truly,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

That O’Mahony was Thaddeus, the brother of James O’Mahony of Bandon,
of whom I spoke in a previous chapter. In a subsequent letter my
correspondent says:

“Your friend O’Mahony has been recently married, and I am told that he
gives out that he was once a priest.”

I don’t think he was ever a priest, but I think he had an uncle a
priest. His mother’s name was Kearney; she lived and died a Catholic,
and I think she had a brother, a Father Kearney, who was stationed one
time, somewhere near Bandon. Yes, Thaddeus O’Mahony of Trinity College,
married a Protestant, became a Protestant minister, and died--I don’t
know what.

Writing July 3, 1856, John O’Donovan says: “What puzzles me most is,
why the epithet, or appellative of Rossa clings to your sept. The
O’Donovans of Rossmore are mentioned in an inquisition taken at Cork on
the 3d of April, 1639, when Thaddeus MacDonogh O’Donovan was ten years
dead, leaving a son, Teige O’Donovan, his son and heir, who was of age
when his father died.

“Where is Rossmore situated, and what reason have you for believing
that your appellative of Rossa is not derived from that place.”

I told John O’Donovan that that was the place from which the
appellative of Rossa was derived. That the family lived there; that
the family tradition was, that they were driven out of it by fines,
inquisitions and confiscations--fines for not attending service in the
Protestant churches--inquisitions into titles to property, when they
had no titles but what belonged to them as being Irish, and owners of
the soil upon which they and their fathers were born; and consequent
confiscation of their lands, for not paying the fines, and for not
being able to show an English title to their property. That is how
nearly all the lands of all the old Irish families were confiscated
into the possession of the descendants of the Englishmen who hold
them to-day. The more modern and more distinguishing appellative of
Rossa--from Rossmore--followed my family when they were driven from
Rossmore, and the Clan-name of MacAneeis (MacAeneas) was dropped from
the tongues of the people.

Rossmore is the same place as Kilmeen, and Lisnabreeny, and
Glean-a-Mhuilin are neighboring townlands in the parish of Rossmore or

This is the next letter:

                                                     August 26th, 1857.

    DEAR SIR--When I arrived here yesterday, the servant girl told
    me that a young Mr. O’Donovan had called early in the morning.
    I thought it might be Mr. John O’Donovan of Enniscorthy, but
    I have since seen him and he told me it was not he. I thought
    it might be Henry Donovan the mathematician, but I find it was
    not. After making several inquiries among my Donovan friends,
    I have come to the conclusion that it must be you. The girl
    describes the gentleman who called, as about twenty-three years
    old; brown-haired, tall, and thin in the face. He had with him,
    she says, a countryman from Clare or Kerry.

    I waited within in the evening till 8 o’clock yesterday.

    I am going to the Arran Islands in the Bay of Galway on the 3d
    of September, with the British Association, and on my return I
    am thinking of going to the South to see my O’Donovan friends.

    I make my first appearance at 11 o’clock to-morrow, before
    the Savans of Europe, on “The characteristics of the Old
    Irish Race”. I feel rather nervous, but I hope I won’t fail

    Should you come to Dublin soon again, please to let me know
    where a note could find you, and how long you will remain, for
    then I will be able to go for you, or send a messenger.

    I stay within this evening till 8 o’clock, expecting you
    might call; but I must go out then, as a member of the British

        Yours sincerely,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

The English war of the Indian Mutiny was going on in the year 1857.
England was blowing the Sepoys from the cannon’s mouth; and whenever
England won a battle there were days of fasting and prayer declared in
England--and Ireland, too--to give thanks to God. Of course, it was
taken for granted that God was at the side of England--for England had
the heavy cannon, and the giant powder, and the mitrelleuse artillery.

I suppose I, in writing to John O’Donovan, told him that I fasted
fiercely, and prayed hard one of those days, as I find he makes
allusion to the matter in this letter:

                                             DUBLIN, October 9th, 1857.

    DEAR SIR--I was much amused by your description of the
    braon-sinshir which is likely to extinguish us all. Deborah
    Ford was hanged about Shrovetide, 1641, by O’Donovan (Daniel,
    son of Donell, son of Donell-na-g Croicean,) and Teige-a-duna
    McCarthy of Dunmanway. If the drops had ceased on the death of
    the late General O’Donovan of Bawnlahan, in 1829, the tradition
    would have been oracular; but the drops are likely to continue
    to fall as long as the grouted arch retains its solidity. Drops
    of this kind are shown in various parts of Ireland. A drop
    like these fell on the tomb of O’Fogarty at Holy Cross Abbey,
    but ceased when the last of the race was hanged at Clonmel for
    Whiteboyism! Another braon aillse continued to fall on the tomb
    of the White knights at Kilmallock, till the last of the direct
    descendants of these knights died without issue.

    What the drops of Castle Donovan may do it is hard to divine.
    I do not believe that the Clan-Donovan are a long-lived or a
    prudent race. They are all fond of their drop, and I believe
    that they are likely to become extinct in Ireland, or to be
    removed westward to the new world by the steady encroachment of
    the Saxon race.

    The drops will surely outlive the present Montpelier family,
    but they have nothing to say to the murder of Deborah Ford.
    They should have ceased at the extinction of the head of the
    Bawnlahan family in 1829. But this family is not yet extinct,
    and the deadly drops hang over them like fatal swords.

    There were O’Donovans at Crookhaven, whose pedigree is
    preserved. Is Timothy O’Donovan of Arhahill still living? Is
    Richard Donovan of Lisheens House at Ballincolla still living?

    I was glad to hear that you fasted and prayed on Wednesday
    last. In the last century, the Milesian Irish showed a great
    disinclination to pray for the success of the arms of England.
    Timothy O’Sullivan wrote about 1800, on the proclamation of
    George III.

    Go sintear mo phiob-sa le ramharcorda, choi’che ma ghiodhfiod
    air maithe leosan--

        “May my windpipe be stretched by a very stout cord,
        If e’er for their welfare, I pray to the Lord.”

    But we are getting more and more English and loyal every
    century. Timothy O’Donovan of the Cove, is one of the highest
    Tories you have in Cork County--though a great Papist; and so
    is his relative Rickard Donovan, clerk of the Crown.

    The O’Donovan writes to me--October 8th, 1857. “We have just
    now an abatement of an awful storm and deluge of rain, such
    as rarely occurs. I trust it may not have damaged those two
    noble ships, Austrian and Great Britain, that left this port on
    Monday and Tuesday for India, with 2,000 soldiers.”

        Yours as ever,

                                                          J. O’DONOVAN.

Irish tories are those Irishmen who side with the government of Ireland
by England. The O’Donovan of Montpelier was a tory and a Protestant;
Timothy O’Donovan of O’Donovan’s Cove, was a tory and a Papist. Those
two held landlord possession of lands that belonged equally to their
clansmen; England protected them in that landlord possession of the
robbery from their own people, and that is why and how those Irish
landlords all over Ireland back England in maintaining a foreign
government in their native land.

And here, I may as well pause to let my readers see some old historical
records that will corroborate what I, in a previous chapter, said about
my people being deprived of their lands because they would not turn
Protestant; not alone my people, but all the people of the old blood of
Ireland from Cork and Kerry to Donegal and Antrim.

The Skibbereen _Eagle_ of February 19, 1898, reprinting a historical
paper about my native diocese, from the _Lamp_, says:

Though the diocese of Ross was small, it was not too small to tempt
the rapacity and greed of the Reformation leaders. A certain William
Lyons, who was an apostate from the beginning, was appointed Protestant
Bishop of Ross in 1582. He met with a characteristic reception from the
brave and zealous priests and people of Ross. All the plate, ornaments,
vestments and bells connected with the cathedral and monastery, as well
as a chime of bells in solid silver, valued at £7,000, were secreted in
the strand at Ross Bay. And so well was the secret kept, that though
the priest and friars were tortured and hanged--in the hope that love
of life would tempt them to disclose the hiding place, the treasure
remained undiscovered to this date.

The people were not behind hand in their opposition. Determined that
the residence that had been consecrated by so many saints and patriots
should not be contaminated by the presence of an apostate, they set
fire to the old Episcopal mansion, so that the intruder to the See of
Ross had to report to the Commissioners, in 1615, that on his arrival
he found no residence, “but only a place to build one on.” Lyons,
however, was not to be denied a place whereon to lay his head. He built
himself a house at the cost of £300, a large sum for those days, “but
in three years it was burned by the rebel, O’Donovan.” The Protestant
Bishop, for want of something better to do, turned planter; for we
have a record that he was commissioned “to find out ways and means to
people Munster with English inhabitants.”

Elizabeth at this time was Queen of England, and in the first year of
her reign were passed these laws:

First year of Elizabeth, Chapter 2, Section 8. And all and every
person or persons inhabitating within this realm shall diligently
and faithfully resort to their Parish church or chapel, or to some
usual place where Common Prayer and other Service of God is used or
ministered, upon pain that every person so offending shall forfeit for
every such offence twelve pence, to be levied by the church wardens of
the parish, by way of distress on the goods, lands and tenements of
such offender.

Statute 23 of Elizabeth, Chapter 2, says:

“And be it likewise enacted, that every person who shall say or sing
mass, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall forfeit the sum of two
hundred marks, and be committed to prison in the next jail, there to
remain by the space of one year, and from thenceforth till he have paid
the said sum of two hundred marks. And that every person who shall
willingly hear mass, shall forfeit the sum of one thousand marks, and
suffer imprisonment for a year.

“Be it also further enacted that every person above the age of fourteen
years who shall not repair to some church, chapel or usual place of
Common prayer, but forbear the same, contrary to the tenor of a statute
made in the first year of Her Majesty’s reign, for uniformity of
Common prayer, and being thereof lawfully convicted, shall forfeit to
the Queen’s majesty for every month which he or she shall so forbear,
twenty pounds of lawful English money.”

The 29th statute of Elizabeth, Chapter 6, Section 4, says:

“And be it also enacted that every such offender in not repairing to
Divine Service, who shall fortune to be thereof once convicted, shall
pay into the said receipt of the exchequer, after the rate of twenty
pounds for every month. And if default shall be made in any part of
any payment aforesaid, that then, and so often, the Queen’s Majesty
shall and may by process out of the said exchequer, take, seize and
enjoy all the goods, and two parts as well of all the lands, tenements
and hereditaments, leases and farms of such offender, as of all other
lands, tenements and hereditaments liable to such seizure, leaving the
third part only of the same lands, tenements and hereditaments, leases
and farms to and for the maintenance and relief of the same offender,
his wife, children and family.”

Elizabeth dies in the year 1603 and James I. comes to the throne. He
makes all haste to confirm all that Elizabeth had done to plunder and
persecute Irish Catholics, and gets his Parliament to pass these acts:

Statute 1, James, Chapter 4. “And be it further enacted by authority
of this present parliament, that where any seizure shall be had of the
two parts of any lands, tenements, hereditaments, leases or farms, for
the non-payment of the twenty pounds due, and payable for each month,
according to the statute in that case made and provided; that in every
such case, every such two parts shall, according to the extent thereof,
go toward the satisfaction and payment of the twenty pounds due and
payable for each month, and unpaid by any such recusant.”

Statute 3 of James, Chapter 4, says:

“Inasmuch as it is found by daily experience, that many of His
Majesty’s subjects that adhere in their hearts to the Popish religion,
by the infection drawn from thence, and by the wicked and devilish
counsel of Jesuits, Seminaries, and other like persons dangerous to
the Church and State, and so far perverted in the point of their
loyalties, and due allegiance unto the King’s Majesty, and the Crown
of England, and do the better to cover and hide their false hearts,
repair sometimes to church, to escape the penalty of the laws in behalf

“Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, the lords
spiritual and temporal, and the commoners in this present parliament
assembled: That every Popish recusant, convicted, or hereafter to be
convicted, which heretofore hath conformed him or herself, and who
shall not repair to church and receive the sacrament of the Lord’s
supper, he or she shall, for such not receiving, lose and forfeit for
the first year, twenty pounds a month; for the second year for such not
receiving, forty pounds a month, until he or she shall have received
the said sacrament as is aforesaid.

“And if after he or she shall have received the said sacrament as is
aforesaid, and after that, shall eftsoons at any time offend in not
receiving the said sacrament as is aforesaid by the space of one whole
year; that in every such case the person so offending shall for every
such offence lose and forfeit three-score pounds of lawful English

Then, to meet the cases of estated and wealthy Catholics who would
rather pay the fines and forfeits of twenty, forty and sixty pounds,
than attend the Protestant churches, an act was passed to deprive them
of two-thirds of their lands, tenements, leases and farms. Here are the
words of that act:

“Now, forasmuch as the said penalty of twenty pounds monthly is a
greater burden unto men of small living, than unto such as are of
better ability, and do refuse to come unto Divine Service as aforesaid,
who, rather than they will have two parts of their lands to be seized,
will be ready always to pay the said twenty pounds, and yet retain in
their own hands the residue of their livings and inheritance--being
of great yearly value, which they do for the most part employ to the
maintenance and superstition of the Popish religion. Therefore, to the
intent that hereafter the penalty for not repairing to Divine service
might be inflicted in better proportion upon men of great ability: Be
it enacted that the King’s Majesty, his heirs and successors, shall
have full power and liberty to refuse the penalty of twenty pounds a
month, and thereupon to seize and take to his own use two parts in
three of all the lands, tenements, hereditaments, leases and farms, and
the same to remain to his own and other uses, interest and purposes
hereafter in this act provided, in lieu and in full recompense of the
twenty pounds monthly.”

I heard at my father’s fireside, before I was able to read a book,
about those laws which I am now copying from an old law book of the
seventeenth century. All my readers are victims of these laws. Father
Campbell and Father Brown, the priests of my parish to-day, are victims
of them. They, and the many other good priests who are tenants on the
estate of the _United Irishmen_ newspaper, ought not to blame me much,
if I was ever during my life, ready and willing to join any society
of Irishmen that were aiming at destroying English rule, and English
government in Ireland.

I am not done with John O’Donovan’s letters. I regard them as
historical--historical, after we are all dead; so I let you see some
more of them.

                                              DUBLIN, October 24, 1858.

    MY DEAR FRIEND--My second son, Edmond, desires me to send to
    you his first attempt at painting the armorial bearings of the
    O’Donovans. He drew them very well in pencil, but he spoiled
    his drawing in laying on the colors, at which he is not yet
    sufficiently expert. He has been about a year at drawing under
    the tuition of Mr. Bradford of the Jesuits’ Seminary, No. 6
    Great Denmark street, but I have determined upon _with_drawing
    him from this amusement, as he was spending all his time at
    drawing cats and dogs, and neglecting his more important
    duties. He has been put into Homer and Euclid this quarter,
    which will occupy all his time.

    A young friend of mine, William John O’Donovan of the Middle
    Temple, London, has been making researches in London about
    O’Donovans, and has found some particulars about the sept of
    Kilmeen, or Mac Enesles, which escaped me. I will write to him
    on the subject when I hear of his arriving in London. He is a
    very young man of some fortune, and a most enthusiastic herald
    and genealogist.

    Since I wrote to you last, I lost my only brother, and am now
    the last of my generation. He left one grandson of the ominous
    name of Kerrigan (which was the name of the old bishop of Cork
    who left a curse on our race for their having murdered Mahon
    King of Munster, the brother of Brian Boru). My brother’s
    daughter, Adelia ni Donovan was married to Thomas Frederick
    Kerrigan, the only son of an old merchant of New York. She
    had no money, of course, and the old man turned his son out
    of doors for this imprudent marriage. Then the son went to
    California, where he went through a variety of adventures. At
    length the father died, and the hero of California has returned
    to his wife and child, and taken his father’s place in New York.

    I enclose you his note to me, from which I infer that he
    believed I had known all about my brother’s death; but I had
    not known a word about it except in a dream, from which I would
    venture to calculate the minute at which he died.

    The enclosed extract from a note from the Reverend Mr. Hayman,
    Protestant minister of Youghal, reminded me of you, and I send
    it, hoping that you will be able to tell me something about
    the Nagles mentioned by him. I remain, dear sir, yours ever

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

                  DUBLIN, 36 UPPER BUCKINGHAM STREET, October 25, 1858.


    MY DEAR FRIEND--The O’Donovan and I are good friends? He seems
    to me to be a kind and good man, and really an Irishman of
    some spirit. I gave the young gentleman of the Inner Temple,
    London, a letter of introduction to him last August, and he
    spent about ten days with him at Montpelier, while he was
    examining the registry of Cork, for O’Donovan Wills. He told me
    that The O’Donovan treated him with great urbanity, hospitality
    and kindness. This young gentleman is of the Wexford Sept of
    the Hy-Figenti; is about twenty-six years old, six feet two
    inches tall; a Protestant, (but he is likely to be fished up
    by the Pope some day or another, like the Ramm of Gorey!)
    Next year, during the vacation, he promises to examine the
    Herbert documents for me. Herbert had given me permission to
    examine his papers several years since, but I have not been
    able to take time to go to Killarney. This young gentleman
    has been in receipt of £350 per annum in right of his mother,
    who died when he was eighteen months old. His father, who is
    about sixty-seven years old, married a young wife a year or
    two since, but he will leave this young Mr. John O’Donovan
    £400 a year in addition to what he has already. He is the
    cousin-german of the Captain E. O’Donovan, who took the Russian
    battery at Alma, and of Henry O’Donovan who was shot through
    the head at the taking of the Little Redan at Sebastopol.

    As I feel convinced that you take a great interest in all true
    branches of our name, I enclose you a letter from a Daniel
    Donovan of Queenstown (Cove of Cork) who appears to me to be
    a very respectable and worthy man, though little known in his
    neighborhood, except as a baker. Who is he? I firmly believe
    that the name will become important again, though now sunk low
    enough as regards landed property.

    I forgot to ask you in my last letter what happened to our
    American friend, your cousin Florence, who expected to be
    appointed Consul at Cork. Has he written to you since? Has he
    any desire to return home?

    I do not believe that my ancestor Edward comes under the curse
    of the Braon-Sinshir of Dorothy Ford, for he was killed by a
    cannon ball, which I think I have, about six years before she
    was hanged by Daniel O’Donovan and Teige-a-doona McCarthy;
    but I labor under the curse of the holy Bishop Kerrigan, and
    so do you, and the whole race; but I believe--hope--it lost
    its withering force, or that its fulminatory influence was
    nearly spent after the fifth generation. Curses among the Jews
    exhausted themselves in the fifth generation. The Irish belief
    is that the curse returns on the pronouncer if it was not
    deserved. Our ancestor really deserved the curse pronounced on

    Let me congratulate you on the subject of your many sons. I am
    particularly fortunate in that respect, for I have no daughter
    to run away with any Kerrigan; but, as the Emperor of China
    said: “Where there are many sons, there are many dangers.”
    Excuse hurry, late toward midnight, and after a hard day’s
    work. My sight is failing.

        Yours sincerely,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                 DUBLIN, Nov. 10, 1858.

    MY DEAR FRIEND--You will oblige me by returning to me the
    descent of the Rev. Mr. Hayman of Youghal (with any remarks
    you have to make on the Nagles), at your earliest convenience.
    I want to try what my grenadier namesake in London can make
    of it. He is pedigree-mad, if any man ever was so, and would
    read a whole library for one fact relating to any branch of the

    Write me such a note as I can send him (without making any
    allusion to Protestants) and I will get him to make any
    searches you like about the Kilmeen or Glean-a-Mhuilin Sept.

    My eldest boy John entered Trinity College, Dublin, on the 5th
    instant, and was admitted to contend for mathematical honors.
    He feels himself like a fish out of water among the Tory
    Protestants, after leaving the Jesuit fathers of Great Denmark

    It is reported here that a young Ireland war is beginning to be
    organized in Cork and Kerry, but I do not believe it. You need
    not make any allusion to this in your notes, because my young
    friend is an aristocrat, though he hates the Saxons more than I

        Yours in great haste,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

The “Young Ireland War” as he calls it, got me into prison a few weeks
after he wrote that letter. He wrote it on the 10th of November, 1858.
I was arrested on the 5th of December, and kept in Cork Jail until
August, 1859; but that did not make John O’Donovan afraid of writing to
me. I wrote to him on some subjects from Cork Jail. He was in England
at the time, and I got this letter from his son Edmond, who was then
fifteen years old.

                                                 DUBLIN, June 20, 1859.


    SIR--My father and my brother John are at present in Oxford,
    else you would have long since received an answer to your
    letter. As you would probably wish to write to him again,
    I send you his address, which is in care of Dr. Bandenel,
    Bodleian Library, Oxford. We expect them home about the 24th of

        I remain your, etc.,

                                                          E. O’DONOVAN.

That is the Edmond O’Donovan who became so celebrated as a war
correspondent in Asia and Africa, for the London papers, and who was
killed in the Soudan in the year 1882. About June the 14th, 1859, his
father wrote me this letter:

    DEAR SIR--I have received your letter of the 5th instant, and
    was glad to hear that your enthusiasm had not cooled down. I
    was, since I wrote to you last, away in the beautiful land
    of the Saxon, where they seem to know as much about us as
    they do about the Pawnee Loups of North America. I worked
    in the British Museum, the Tower of London, the State paper
    office, the Lambeth Library, all in London, and in the Lambeth
    Library at Oxford. The State papers are full of most curious
    information relating to Ireland, which will be published
    some time between this and the day of judgment, for the
    enlightenment of posterity, but not in our times.

    John Collins of Myross, the last Irish poet and antiquary of
    Carbery was an Irish Senachy without any critical knowledge

    The tribe of the O’Donovans which he calls MacAeneas or
    MacAongus, had never any existence under that appellation,
    but the O’Donovans of Glenawilling, are frequently mentioned
    in old Irish pedigrees, under the name of MacEnesles, and
    in the public records under that of MacEnesles-Mac-I-Crime.
    This MacEnesles family was the third (second by descent) most
    important sept of the O’Donovans of Carbery, and the descent
    of their ancestor Aneslis, or Stanislaus, is given thus by

    1. Donovan, ancestor of the O’Donovans, slain, 977, by Brian

    2. Cathal, fought at Clontarf, 1014.

    3. Amhlaff or Auliffe, flourished 1041.

    4. Murrough.

    5. Aneslis.

    6. Raghnall or Reginald.

    7. Mulrony.

    8. Crom, slain, 1254, by O’Mahony in Glanachryme near Dunmanway.

    9. Cathal, a quo Clancahill, anciently of Castle Donovan in

    Aneslis, a quo MacEnesles of Glenawilling.

    Loughlin, a quo the Clan Loughlin of Cloghatradbally.

    10. Donogh More, son of Aneslis.

    The pedigrees of the Clancahill of Castle-Donovan, and of the
    Clan Loughlin of Kilmaccabee and Reenogriana are preserved, but
    that of the sept of Mac Enesles (now locally Mac MacIninish)
    has been entirely neglected. The last distinguished man of the
    sept was Captain Daniel Boy O’Donovan of Kilcoleman, who had
    served his Majesty faithfully beyond the seas, 1641. In 1632,
    Dermod MacTeige MacEnesles O’Donovan possessed the lands of
    Lisnabreeny West, in the parish of Kilmeen; but here I lose
    sight of them altogether! They had no local historian. Aneslis
    their ancestor had four sons, Donogh More, Rickard, Walter and
    Randal, who became the founder of four distinct septs generally
    called in the public records, Slught Eneslis MacIcroyme. Denis
    na Meeny, so much talked of by John Collins, was one of this
    sept. Yours ever sincerely,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

After I came out of jail, our correspondence continued; I will continue
it here by showing you this letter:

                                                 DUBLIN, March 1, 1860.

    MY DEAR FRIEND--I have just received your note, and was glad
    to see your handwriting. I should be glad to contribute in any
    way to illustrate the literature of old Ireland, but my hands
    are more than full just now. I have too many irons in the fire,
    so that some of them must get burned. My boys are of no help
    to me, because they have too many studies to attend to, and I
    do not like to interrupt them. I have the eldest in Trinity
    College, and three others at the Jesuits’ Grammar School, where
    they are making considerable progress in classic and science.
    I have buried the youngest, Morgan Kavanaugh O’C. O’D., who
    died on the 11th of February, 1860, at the age of one year and
    forty-nine days, so that I calculate he went off the stage of
    this world without any stain from ancient or modern sin. I
    have no reason to be sorry for his departure from this wicked
    world. But his mother is so sorry after him that she refused to
    take food for two days, which has brought her to the brink of

    I was glad to learn that Henry O’Donovan, Esq., of Lissard,
    had an heiress. He may have a house full of children now, of
    both sexes, as he has broken the ice, notwithstanding the
    curse of the Coarb of St. Barry. Our ancestor Donobhan, son of
    Cathal, was certainly a singularly wicked and treacherous man,
    but it is to be hoped that his characteristics have not been
    transmitted, and therefore that the curse of the good Coarb of
    St. Barry has spent its rage long since. But still if you view
    the question fairly, you will incline with me to believe that
    the curse still hangs over us:

    1. Castle-Donovan was forfeited in 1641, and given away,

    2. My ancestor Edmond killed the son of O’Sullivan Beare, and
    was killed himself in 1643, leaving his descendants landless.

    3. The race of Colonel Daniel O’Donovan became extinct in 1829,
    in the person of General O’Donovan, who left the small remnant
    of his patrimonial inheritance to Powell, a Welshman. Curse!

    4. The present O’Donovan is childless. His brother Henry has
    one daughter, who, if she be the only heir, will leave the name

    These four reasons, adding to them your imprisonment in 1859,
    convinces me that the curse of the good Coarb still hangs over
    us all. But I hope we may escape it in the next world!

    John O’Mahony (the descendant of the real murderer of Mahon,
    King of Munster), who was proclaimed here in 1848, is now
    in America, a greater rebel than ever. His translation of
    Keating’s history of Ireland is rather well done.

    Wishing you every happiness, I remain dear sir, yours ever,

                                                          J. O’DONOVAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                DUBLIN, March 21, 1860.

    MY DEAR FRIEND--I have promised to write for Sir Bernard Burk’s
    “Family Vicissitudes” a few articles on fallen Irish families,
    and I was thinking of giving a note of James O’Donovan
    of Cooldurragha, whom you told me was in the poorhouse,
    Skibbereen. You mentioned to me that he had no son. Perhaps
    you might not think it troublesome to ask himself if he would
    like this notice of him to appear. If he should like it, you
    will oblige me by letting me know exactly what he has to say
    on the “vicissitudes” of his family. I know you have a quick
    apprehension and a lively imagination, and I will therefore
    expect from your pen a curious story from the dictation of
    James O’D. himself, on the vicissitudes of his family. I
    believe that his descent is pure, and that he is now the senior
    representative of Donogh, the fourth son of O’Donovan by the
    daughter of Sir Owen McCarthy-Reagh. This is a high descent for
    one who is a porter in the poorhouse, and I think his story
    might be worked up into a narrative that might do justice to
    the genius of Plutarch.

    Your friend Edmond, the painter, has got free access to the
    records of the Ulster King’s Tower. I am almost afraid to let
    him indulge his tastes for heraldry; but I am willing to let
    him go there every second day, on condition that he will not
    neglect his classical studies. Should you be writing to your
    cousin Florence, of New York, you will oblige me by asking him
    to call on my nephew-in-law, Thomas Francis Kerrigan, telling
    him that I wish them to become acquainted.

    This has been a very severe March, but as you have youth,
    health and enthusiasm on your side, you must have come off more
    scathless from the effects of it than one who is a regular
    Mananan Mac Lir--a regular thermometer--from the effects of

        Yours, ever sincerely,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

As he asked me to see James O’Donovan, I saw him. He was a porter at
the entrance gate of the Skibbereen Poorhouse, at a salary of twelve
pounds a year.

When he would have a vacation day, he’d come into my house in town. One
day I told him what John O’Donovan wanted me to get from him. He did
not like to give it; he was afraid it would injure him. Henry O’Donovan
brother to “The O’Donovan” was an ex-officio poor law guardian; Powell,
the Welshman, who inherited the lands of General O’Donovan was an
ex-officio P. L. G., and if he, James, got anything published about
who and what he was, they may think he had some design upon ownership
of the lands of the O’Donovan clan, which they held because their
fathers and their kin turned Protestant, while James’ fathers remained
Catholics, and so lost their patrimony; so James did not like to give
me the information John O’Donovan wanted, for fear it would--to the
loss of his situation--prejudice the landlord guardians against him,
most of whom were the possessors of the plundered property of the

I told that to John O’Donovan, telling him I did not like to press
James to give me his story.

The next of his letters is this:

                                                DUBLIN, March 24, 1860.

    MY DEAR FRIEND--I have received your letter, and was
    exceedingly sorry to hear you had lost your wife--a great
    loss in case of ardent affection on both sides; but you are
    young and vigorous; and time, the dulce molimen--the soft
    soother--will finally reduce your grief to “a softer sadness.”
    Your imprisonment must have weighed heavily upon her spirits.

    My nephew-in-law seems to be a sensible man of the world. He
    seems to be a great Catholic. Of his politics I know nothing,
    but calculate that they are ultramontane; and I think Finghin
    Ceannmor and he would agree very well. I have no faith in
    politics of any kind, nor have I any trust in Whig or Tory.
    I was glad to learn that poor James was in good health, and
    not utterly destitute. I hope you will be able to get out
    of him all the Shanachus that he has in his head about the
    Clann-Donnabhain. I am sure it would offend him to hear that
    Donell-na-g Croicean, who died in 1584, was unquestionably a
    bastard--Teige, his father, was never married. Donell-na-g
    Croicean “kept” Eileen ni Laoghaire--Ellen O’Leary, but
    afterward married her. Domhnall, their son, married Juana,
    daughter of Sir Owen McCarthy.

    Daniel, their first son, is the ancestor of General O’Donovan,
    of Bawnlahan, who died in 1829. Teige, their second son, is the
    ancestor of Morgan, now O’Donovan. Donogh, the fourth son is
    the ancestor of James of Cooldurragha.

    It is useless to tell him this, because he would not believe
    it, though it was sworn to by “Sir Finghin O’Driscoll, and
    divers other good and trustworthy witnesses”; but he heard from
    the Clan-Loughlin and other septs of the O’Donovans, that such
    was the tradition.

    This illegitimacy of the senior branch is, in my opinion,
    another result of the curse of the good Coarb of St. Barry.

    I have given in the Appendix to the Annals, all that I could
    find about James’ pedigree; but what I want from him now is
    his story of how the property gradually passed from him and
    his ancestors, giving dates as often as possible, and also the
    cause of the loss of the lands. It is very curious how the
    descendants of the youngest son, Kedagh, succeeded better than
    any of the rest, except the Protestants.

    How many acres did James farm when he was married?

    My western correspondents always speak of him as a poor,
    struggling farmer, but a man of strict probity and high
    principles. Does any other male descendant of his ancestor
    Donogh or Denis survive? If there is none, does it not strike
    you that the curse is at work in removing the name out of
    Clancahill? I am actually superstitious on this point. I
    believe that most members of the family are high-minded,
    and remarkably honest, but I believe, also, that they are
    reckless, addicted to drink, and irritable to a degree that
    counterbalances all their amiable characteristics. I am
    anxious to preserve a memorial of James, as by all accounts,
    he has been a virtuous, honest and honorable man; and only
    unfortunate, as being overwhelmed by adverse circumstances, or
    perhaps, as not having sufficient craft or cunning to grapple
    with the world. I enclose you the Jesuits’ letter about my
    boys. These Jesuits are very clever. I also enclose a note from
    W. J. O’Donovan of the Protestant sept of Wexford, who beats
    us all hollow in enthusiasm for the name and its pedigree.

    Hoping that you keep up your spirits, I remain, dear sir, yours
    ever sincerely,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                DUBLIN, March 27, 1860.

    MY DEAR FRIEND--You told me when last in Dublin, that the
    family of Deasy were Irish, and were called in Irish,
    O’Daosaigh. Are you quite certain that the O’ is prefixed to
    the name by the Irish-speaking people of the County of Cork?

    We have in the County Kilkenny a family of the name of O’Daedi,
    anglicized Deady, and I have been long of the opinion that your
    Deasys of County Cork are the same. You have a Dundeady in the
    parish of Rathbarry, in your county, a well-known promontory.

    You will oblige me exceedingly by asking James of Cooldurragha,
    whether the Deasys are a Cork family, and what the name is
    called by the Irish-speaking people. Please to ask James the
    following questions:

    First.--Are there O’Deadys and O’Deasys in the County Cork?

    Second.--If not; how long have the O’Deasys been in the County
    Cork; and where did they come from? What is the tradition?

    We have O’Deadys in Ossory, but believe that they came from
    Munster; and John MacWalter Walsh, in his dirge, lamenting the
    downfall of the Irish, sets down O’Deady as one of the Irish
    chieftains next after O’Coileain, now Collins. This looks odd;
    for I cannot find any Irish chieftain of the name of O’Deady
    in the Irish annals, or Irish genealogies. I have several
    relatives of this name.

    Third.--How long have the Deasys of your county (of whom is the
    Attorney-General Rickard Deasy) been in the County Cork? Are
    they aborigines or late comers? If aborigines, where were they
    seated? If late comers, how is it known that they are of Irish
    descent? How long are they among the rank of the gentry? Are
    there many of the name in the county? Are they a clan anywhere?
    I suppose they are O’Deadys.

    Fourth.--Did James ever hear of a sept of the O’Donovans in
    the County of Cork, who were not descended from Crom, or the
    Donovan who captured Mahon, King of Munster at Bruree? It
    appears there was a sept of the O’Donovans of the same race as
    O’Driscoll of Colthuighe, before the race of the treacherous
    Donovan of Bruree had settled in the O’Driscoll territory; but
    I fear they cannot now be distinguished. They were seated in
    Tuath-Feehily, near Inchydoney, on the Bay of Clonakilty.

        Yours ever,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                DUBLIN, March 29, 1860.

    MY DEAR FRIEND--I return you the letters of Donal Oge and
    Edward O’Sullivan (Edward, the Cork butter merchant, now
    dead--1898), and thank you most heartily for the read of them.
    Donald Oge (Dan McCartie, now in New York--1898), seems very
    clever, but the other seems wild. Your cousin, Finghin Ceannmor
    and my nephew-in-law in New York may be of mutual advantage to
    each other, as they seem bent on business and industry. I fear
    your political friends are too sublime in their notions to herd
    with either of them.

    You will oblige me by getting hold of Shemus of Cooldurragha
    soon as you can, or his brother. Have they any share of
    education? I suppose John Collins was their chief tutor.

    I was often invited by the O’Donovan and his brother Henry to
    visit them, but I have never been able to spare time. I thought
    to send Edmond last year, but his mother would not let him go.
    Next summer or autumn I may take a stroll to the Southwest with
    one or two of the boys, to show them gentes cunnabula nostrae.

        Meantime, believe me, yours ever,

                                                         S. O’DONOBHAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                DUBLIN, April 20, 1860.

    MY DEAR FRIEND--Many thanks for your letter about the Deasys. I
    fear that their pedigree is not on the rolls of time, and that
    we can never discover any more about them.

    Your observations about the Pope have amused me very much. My
    faction of boys are divided into two deadly political enemies
    to each other on the subject, and I can hardly keep them from
    fighting on the subject. One party is for our Holy Father the
    Pope and his temporal power, and another for ceding him his
    spiritual power only. They are all for Napoleon; which, in
    my opinion, is not fair, and they hope that the Bourbons will
    never be restored.

    My eldest son John, got the prize for chemistry in the Museum
    of Industry here, which was a great effort for him, being just
    turned off seventeen and having to contend with the practical
    young chemists of Dublin.

    My second son, Edmond, is actually mad at his heraldic
    studies, though I have been constantly telling him that it is
    an obsolete science, and that mankind will soon do very well
    without it. But my admonition is slighted, and he continues
    to cultivate the old knightly science. You will soon see some
    of his doings in my article on Wilhelm Count Gall Von Bourkh
    of the Austrian service, from whose brother Walter we descend

    My third son, William, is the cleverest of all, and is likely
    to become a Jesuit or a Passionist. He is entirely for the Pope
    and his temporal power; and inclines to sneer at the _Nation_
    and _Irishman_ equally. We get both these eccentric Irish
    newspapers. My fourth son Richard is all for statistics and
    geography. He knows more of European statistics than any boy of
    his age in the world (except, perhaps, some of the mnemonistic
    students) but he is wicked and selfish and will be very lucky
    if he is not yet killed fighting against the niggers.

    Hoping to hear of your second marriage (which is a right,
    natural and proper thing), I remain, dear sir, your well wisher,

                                                        JOHN O’DONOVAN.

While I was in prison, from 1865 to 1871, Edmond O’Donovan was taking
an active part in Fenian politics. In that enterprise he had traveled
through Ireland, England, Scotland, and had made a few visits to
America. After I left prison and came to America, I got this letter
from him;

                                   COUNTY DURHAM, ENGLAND, May 9, 1872.

    MY DEAR ROSSA--Twenty times within the past four months, I
    have sat down with the intention of writing you a long letter;
    but as often those circumstances over which one has no control
    interposed their ill-favored presence. Even as it is, I cannot
    catch time for an interchange of thoughts, and only scribble a
    few lines to ask you to get our friend whom it concerns to look
    after two gentlemen of my acquaintance, now on your side of the
    Atlantic, and who complain they can’t get credit among you.
    Their names and addresses are as follows: Thomas Smith and Owen
    Murray, late of the North of England. Address, under cover, to
    John Kelly, Spuyten Duyvil, Westchester County, N. Y. If you
    would kindly see after this I would be obliged.

    I duly received your card, per favor of Mr. Scanlan, to whose
    letter, by the way, I have never since replied, and about which
    you must apologize for me, should you see him, as he is an old
    and valued friend.

    I address this to the private address on your card--under
    cover, to Mrs. Kelly.

    I have been reading your letters to the Dublin _Irishman_ with
    great interest, and having the misfortune to know something
    about the United States, through two visits made during your
    imprisonment, I can thoroughly appreciate and feel for your
    unenviable position of nineteenth century knight-errant and
    Paladin in the cause of distressed virtue.

    Be assured that if ever I take up such a rôle--and you must
    pardon my saying so--I will display greater discrimination
    in the choice of a sphere of action. I know well the retort
    that will spring to your lips--that those “who live in glass
    houses should not throw stones”--and, that those who constitute
    themselves champions of a lot of “coundfounded, hairy, greasy
    foreigners” should not talk of wisdom. But, after all, you know
    what the United States Germans say--“the longer a man lives,
    the more he finds out,” and I can only say in the words of the
    immemorial schoolboy, “I’ll never do it again, sir.”

    I was a prisoner of war in Bavaria when I read of your release,
    and, would you believe it, it was a Roman Catholic clergyman
    who brought me the news, and was actually--he said--glad to
    hear of it.

    Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction--and as the Turcos
    used to exclaim, “Be chesm, on my head and my eyes be it,” if
    what I tell you isn’t correct.

    Time, paper and nonsensical ideas being all run out--with best
    respects to Mrs. O’D. and all old friends, I remain ever yours,

                                                          E. O’DONOVAN.

    P. S. Excuse rubbish; the fact being that I am writing a book
    on metaphysics, and under the circumstances, you cannot expect
    common sense.

                                                                E. O’D.

P. A. Collins, of Boston, was active in Fenian politics those days. So
was Colonel Tom Kelly, one of the men rescued in Manchester. This is a
letter written by Edmond O’Donovan to P. A. Collins:

    MY DEAR MR. COLLINS--Should any question arise as to the part
    which Colonel Kelly intends playing in the present arrangement
    for unifying the I. R. B., of Great Britain--and should
    any doubt arise as to his abiding by the decision of the
    committee--a member of which you are, I beg to state that I am
    authorized by Colonel Kelly to speak for him in the matter, and
    hold myself in readiness to appear before the convention, or
    any committee appointed by them to investigate the true state
    of the case.

    Furthermore, I am authorized by Colonel Kelly, should such be
    necessary for the harmonious working of the parties, to lay
    before you his complete and entire resignation of all claims to
    authority over any branch of the organization, either here or
    in Great Britain and Ireland. Your obedient servant.

                                                          E. O’DONOVAN.

    P. A. Collins, Esq.

When Edmond was in Asia and Africa, some of the native tribes made him
their king. I take from Appleton’s Encyclopedia this account of how he
came by his death:

“The battle ground had been selected by the Mahdi with his usual
sagacity. It was a narrow rocky passage between wooded hills, in which
he had placed the guns and rifles captured in former engagements,
in positions where they could be used with effect, but where it was
impossible for General Hicks to deploy his artillery. Into this
ambuscade the Egyptian advance was led by a treacherous guide. The army
of Hicks Pasha was totally annihilated. The troops are reported to
have fought three days without water, until all their cartridges were
expended. General Hicks then ordered a bayonet charge, but the army was
immediately overwhelmed, and not a man escaped. The commander-in-chief,
with Alla-ed-Din, Governor General of the Soudan, Abbas Bey, Colonel
Farquahar, Major Von Seckendorf, Massy, Warner and Evans, Captain
Horlth and Anatyaga, Surgeon-general Georges Bey, Surgeon Rosenberg,
O’Donovan the well-known war correspondent, a number of Egyptian pashas
and beys, and all the officers, who numbered 1,200, and soldiers of the
army, were slain.”

In a book bearing the title of “Mr. Parnell, M.P., and the I. R. B.” I
read this passage:

“The most distinguished literary man ever known to be in the ranks of
Fenianism was undoubtedly Edmond O’Donovan, who was a ‘V,’ or organizer
for the North of England, and afterward the well-known Asiatic traveler
and writer.”

Looking at the death of the three eldest sons of John O’Donovan--John,
Edmond and William--I cannot help thinking on what their father says
about his being almost superstitious on the head of that holy curse
pronounced against the name. John was drowned while bathing in the
river at St. Louis; Edmond was slain in Africa; and William died here
in New York a dozen years ago; I saw him buried in Calvary Cemetery.
The three were actively connected with the Fenian movement in Ireland.
I don’t know I may blame myself for having anything to do with that

The father, John O’Donovan, died in the year 1862, at the age of
fifty-three, and his co-laborer in Celtic literature, Eugene Curry,
died a few months after. God be merciful to them, and to all the souls
we are bound to pray for!

Another word; a few words; these few verses from a poem written by
Thomas D’Arcy McGee on the death of John O’Donovan will end this

    And thus it is, that even I,
    Though weakly and unworthily,
      Am moved by grief
    To join the melancholy throng
    And chant the sad entombing song
      Above the chief:

    Too few, too few, among our great,
    In camp or cloister, church or state,
      Wrought as he wrought;
    Too few, of all the brave we trace
    Among the champions of our race
      Gave us his thought.

    Truth was his solitary test,
    His star, his chart, his east, his west;
      Nor is there aught
    In text, in ocean, or in mine,
    Of greater worth, or more divine
      Than this he sought.

    With gentle hand he rectified
    The errors of old bardic pride,
      And set aright
    The story of our devious past,
    And left it, as it now must last
      Full in the light.



On a fine sunny morning in the month of May I found myself on board the
City of Edinburgh steamer, steaming into the harbor of New York.

She stopped while the quarantine doctor came on board to make
examinations as to the state of her health.

Gazing around from the deck of the ship, the scenery was grand--the
hills of Staten Island looking as gay and green as the hills of
Ireland. John Locke’s words, in address to the Cove of Cork, may be
addressed to Clifton:

    And Clifton isn’t it grand you look
    Watching the wild waves’ motion.
    Resting your back up against the hill,
    With the tips of your toes in the ocean--

And the two forts--Hamilton and Wadsworth--situate so like to the two
forts, Camden and Carlisle, got me to think that if the ocean was
baled out and the two countries, Ireland and America, were moved over
to each other, Fort Camden touching Fort Hamilton and Fort Carlisle
touching Fort Wadsworth, there would be no incongruity or break
observable in the grandeur of the scenery, sailing down the River Lee
through the Cove of Cork and up the Hudson River through the harbor of
New York.

They were war times in America the time I arrived in the country (May
13, 1863). Walking up Broadway, I saw a policeman speaking angrily to
another man on the sidewalk near Fulton street; giving him a pretty
hard stroke of his stick on the side of the leg, the civilian screeched
with pain and limped away crying. An impulse came on me to tell the
policeman he had no right to strike the man that way. I did not act on
that impulse; I suppose it was well for me I didn’t. It showed me there
was more liberty in America than I thought there was.

In a few minutes after, I was in the City Hall Park among the soldiers.
The ground on which now stands the post office was a part of the park,
and was planted with little trees and soldiers’ tents. Here I met
several people who knew me, and I was very soon in the office of John
O’Mahony, No. 6 Centre street.

That night I went with O’Mahony to the armory and drill rooms and other
rooms of the Fenian Brotherhood societies. All the Fenians seemed to
be soldiers or learning to be soldiers; many of them volunteering to
go into the battlefields of America that they might be the better able
to fight the battles of Ireland against England. I saw this spirit
in most of the speeches I heard delivered that night, and there was
speech-making, as well as recruiting and drilling everywhere we went.

I made my home, during the few weeks I was looking around, with one of
the Rossa family who came to America in the year 1836--Timothy Donovan,
No. 276 Schermerhorn street, Brooklyn.

I brought with me from Ireland, some letters of introduction to
people in New York. I had a letter from John Edward Pigott to Richard
O’Gorman, a letter from John B. Dillon to Mr. Robert E. Kelly, a
tobacco and cigar importer in Beaver street, and several letters from
Edward O’Sullivan, a Cork butter merchant, to others. The letter from
Mr. Dillon to Mr. Kelly is the letter about which there is a story that
I must not forget telling. I delivered it. After reading it, he talked
with me in his office for a couple of hours. He asked me about Ireland
and the Irish cause--would I give up the cause now, turn over a new
leaf, have sense, and turn my attention to business and money making?
Also asked me what other letters of introduction I had to friends and
how the friends received me. Then he told me what those friends were
likely to do, and likely not to do. All that he told me turned out
true. “And I suppose Mr. Kelly,” said I, “you cannot see the way of
doing anything yourself?” “Not much,” said he, “not much that will be
any permanent good to you. You told me that if you remained for any
time in New York you may go into the cigar business in partnership with
a cousin of yours. Now, if you do that, I will give you goods to the
amount of $2,000; but you’ll lose the money and I’ll lose the money.”

“Then,” said I, “why would you give me your goods if you’re sure you’ll
lose the money?”

“Well,” said he, “from the talk I have had with you, I see you are
disposed to follow up your past life, and I like to give you some
encouragement. There are so few who stick to the cause, once they get a
fall in it, or meet a stumbling-block of any kind.”

“I thought,” said I, “that if I said I would give up the cause, and
sensibly turn my attention to commercial business, that then you might
offer me the credit of your house.” “No,” said he, “I wouldn’t give you
credit to the worth of a dollar in that case.”

I did go into business this time, during the few months I spent in New
York with my cousin Denis Donovan, in Madison street, but we did not
deal in such high class goods as Mr. Kelly imported, and I did not
avail myself of his offer of credit. I went back to Ireland in August
’63. I was put in prison in 1865; came out of prison in 1871, came to
New York and was called upon by Mr. Kelly. At his invitation I called
a few times to his house and he called to where I lived, and met my
family. In 1874 I rented the Northern Hotel. I called to Mr. Kelly’s
office, in Beaver street, to talk to him about the offer he made me
eleven years ago. He was out of town--down in Cuba; but, said his son,
Horace: “There is an order made on the books here, by my father, that
you are to get $2,000 worth of goods at any time you desire to have

I took about $200 worth of cigars that time--I paid for them before I
gave up the hotel business. I have not met any of the family since.

The old gentleman must be gone to the other world. He was what may be
called a real old Irish gentleman, with a touch of the Irish aristocrat
in him in trim and tone. He must have had his boyhood education in
one of the colleges of the continent of Europe in the early years of
the century. He was of the O’Kellys of Connaught; tall and straight
and handsome; the form of him my mind retains now, may be fairly
represented in the form of John D. Crimmins, as I see him passing along
the street.

And, the words he spoke to me, did put some life and strength into me,
and make me strong to-day, even though the fight I’m fighting be a
losing one, and a deserted one--deserted by many who swore to be strong
and true to it.

I returned to Ireland in the month of August, 1863. I was in New York
during the months of June and July, except one week that I spent in
Philadelphia, where lived my mother. I went to see her. She was living
with a brother of mine. It was ten o’clock in the evening when I got to
the house. She did not know me. She was told it was Jerrie. “No, no,
’tis not Jerrie,” and saying this, she passed the tips of her fingers
searchingly across my forehead. She found the scar that is on it--from
the girl having hoisted me over her head and thrown me on the pavements
when I was a year or two old, and then came the kissing and the crying
with the memories of the ruined home and the graves we left in Ireland.

In July, 1863, was fought the battle of Gettysburg. The day after the
battle a carriage stopped at the door of the house in which I lived
at New Chambers and Madison streets. I was told a man in the carriage
wanted to see me. The man was William O’Shea of Bantry, who had spent
eight or nine months with me in Cork Jail, a few years before then. He
asked me to sit with him in the carriage; we drove to some hospital at
the west side of Broadway; he registered his name on the books, gave
up his money to the clerk, was taken to a ward, and a doctor called.
He was dressed in the uniform of a captain; he was a captain in the
Forty-second Tammany Regiment; his uniform was all begrimed with earth;
he had fallen in the fight; he had four wounds on his body--one bullet
having entered in front just below the ribs and come out at the back,
and another having struck him in the wrist, traveling up his hand, come
out near the elbow. He remained two weeks in that hospital; walked
about among the friends in New York two weeks more, then rejoined his
regiment, and got shot dead in the next battle. While he was in New
York, a brother of his was killed in a battle; he had the brother’s
body brought on to New York, and buried in Calvary. As he and I were
coming from Calvary, we met the funeral of the wife of Colonel Michael
Corcoran going to Calvary, and with it we went into the graveyard again.

I have an old relic of his--a letter he wrote me after he rejoined his
regiment. In Ireland I familiarly called him “Billy O’.”

    With fearless Captain Billy O’
      I joined the Fenian band,
    And swore, one day to strike a blow
      To free my native land.

Here are some words of that memento letter of Billy O’s;

                         U. S. GENERAL HOSPITAL, NO. 1, ANNAPOLIS, MD.,
                                                       August 17, 1863.

    JER--You see I lose no time in jerking you a line as soon as I

    Do, Jer., give me credit for being so prompt and thoughtful,
    as it is but seldom I claim praise. Now, for the history of my
    route to here.

    I got in to Baltimore very peaceably indeed. I had a little
    trouble of mind on the cars, but I soon got over that. My
    uneasiness was caused by a beautiful New York girl that was
    going to Washington to a boarding school, to complete her

    I got into Baltimore about seven o’clock the next morning
    after leaving you. I wanted to be here in time, so as to save
    my distance, as the horse jockeys say, which I did in right
    good order. The next day, I was admitted into this hospital
    where I now rest. I’d have saved three or four hundred dollars
    by coming here first, instead of going to New York. Kiss
    Cousin Denis and Tim in remembrance of me. Remembrance to Mr.
    O’Mahony. Send a line as soon as you get any news to

                                                              BILLY O’.

Accompanying that letter was the following letter:

                                            ANNAPOLIS, MD. Aug. 1 1863.


    SIR--Having reported to the Board of Officers for examination,
    you are informed that orders from the War Department require
    that you remain in hospital.

    You are hereby directed to report in person to the surgeon, B.
    A. Vanderkieft, U. S. A., in charge U. S. A. general hospital,
    Division No. 1, Annapolis, Md., for admission and treatment
    therein. You will comply with all rules and regulations,
    governing inmates of the hospital, and the instructions given

                                                      J. S. M’PARLIN.
                                                      Surgeon, U. S. A.

On the envelope in which I find those two preceding communications I
find indorsed the words: “Capt. Billy O’ was killed a month after he
wrote this.--ROSSA.”

A few nights after the burial of Mrs. Corcoran I was at an
entertainment that was at Colonel Corcoran’s house; many priests were
at it, and many officers were in town on leave and on duty. John
O’Mahony told me that Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher was in town the day
before, and fixed upon a day that he and I would go out to his home
in the Orange Mountains of New York to have a talk about how affairs
were in Ireland. We fixed upon a day; Meagher was to meet us with a
coach at the railroad station in the Orange Mountains. The appointed
day came. On the ferry boat to Jersey City we met Captain Jack Gosson
going out to see Meagher too. He was one of Meagher’s aides in the war.
When we got to the Orange Mountains, Meagher and Mrs. Meagher were at
the railroad station before us. We got into the carriage; the general
took the whip and drove us to the mansion of his father-in-law, Mr.
Townsend. After partaking of some refreshments we walked out into the
orchard; birds of all kinds seemed to have their homes there and in
the surrounding wood. A little humming bird, little bigger than a big
bee, seemed to have its home in every tree. Meagher would go around
the blackberry trees and whenever he’d see a large gubolach of a
blackberry, he’d pluck it and bring it to me; he and Captain Gosson all
the time laughingly reminding each other of the many strange incidents
of battles, and of camp life, and of the many queer things officers and
men would do.

O’Mahony whispered to me to entertain Captain Gosson for awhile, as
he and Meagher were going to walk up the wood-path to have a private
talk. Coming to New York that evening, O’Mahony told me it was for the
purpose of initiating General Meagher into the Fenian Brotherhood that
he did this, and that he did initiate him.

Meagher was a handsome make of a man that day. Somewhere, I should
say, about five feet nine, or five feet ten inches in height, firmly
straight and stoutly strong in proportion. When I saw General George B.
McClellan some years after, it appeared to me as if he was physically
proportioned somewhat like Thomas Francis Meagher.

At the dinner table that evening Meagher and O’Mahony got talking of
the draft riots that were in New York the week before. I said I saw
some of the riots; that I saw the crowd that hanged Colonel O’Brien,
and saw a man put the muzzle of a pistol to my face, threatening to
blow my brains out for lifting from the ground a man who was thrown
down by the rioters. “You had a pretty narrow escape,” said Meagher.

“Had you been in New York those days and shown yourself to the people,”
said O’Mahony to Meagher, “you could have stopped all the rioting.”

“Not at all,” said Meagher, “the people those days were in a mood of
mind to tear me limb from limb if they caught hold of me.”

I was in at John O’Mahony’s office one day. A soldier came in; tall and
straight, light but athletic; unloosed his coat, unpocketed his papers
and gave them to John O’Mahony. He was introduced to me as Captain
Patrick J. Condon, of the Sixty-third Regiment; he brought from the
seat of war $600, the monthly contributions of the Army Circles of the
Fenian Brotherhood. This was history repeating itself. The history of
Irish brigades in the service of France and Spain and Austria records
that on every pay day the soldiers would contribute a part of their
pay to a fund that was to equip them to fight against England for the
freedom of Ireland.

That Captain Condon I speak of went to Ireland to fight for its freedom
after the war in America was over. I meet him in New York these days
I am writing these “Recollections”; he is as tall and straight and
soldierly-looking as he was that day in John O’Mahony’s office, in
July, 1863, but the hair of his head is as white as the driven snow.

Michael O’Brien, who was hanged in Manchester in 1867, was in New York
those days of July, 1863. He told me that Major Patrick J. Downing of
the Forty-second Regiment was on from the seat of war, and was up at
Riker’s Island with a detachment to take the men who were drafted. We
went over to Chambers street and got from Colonel Nugent, the provost
marshal, a “pass” to visit Riker’s Island. Mike O’Brien and I went up
to Riker’s Island that evening, and slept in Colonel Downing’s tent
that night. Some days after that Mike came to me and told me he had
made up his mind to join the army. I endeavored to persuade him not
to do so; I told him he had pledged his life to a fight for Ireland,
and what now, if he were to be killed fighting in America? He told me
he did not know how to fight well; that it was to learn how to fight
well he was going to enlist; that he had been out to the front to see
Denis (Denis Downing was a brother of Patrick’s was a comrade clerk of
Michael’s at Sir John Arnott’s in Cork; was now a captain in a Buffalo
regiment), and that he went into a battle that Denis was going into.

What he saw that day showed him that he knew nothing about war, and
he wanted, for Ireland’s sake to learn all he could about it; he had
made up his mind to enlist, and I should go with him to the recruiting
office in Jersey City. I went with him; I saw him measured and sworn
in; the recruiting officer pressing me hard to go with him. I saw him
on the street car that was to take him to the camp in the suburbs of
the city. That street car came out on the street from under the archway
there, near the ferry. Mike stood on the back of the car; I stood on
the street; we kept waving our hats to one another till the car turned
the corner and rolled out of sight. That is the last sight I had on
earth of one of the truest Irish patriot comrades of my life--Michael
O’Brien the Manchester martyr.

On my way through Chambers street to Provost-marshal Nugent’s office
near the Emigrant Savings Bank, the day I got the “pass” to visit
Riker’s Island, some policemen, having prisoners, were going to the
marshal’s office, too. Each of them had hold of his man by the collar
of the coat. Those prisoners were men who had been drafted for the war,
and who had not promptly or voluntarily answered the call the Nation
had made upon them for their services as soldiers. They had gone into
hiding, but were arrested and forced into the fight; and, as likely as
anything else, now that they were obliged to do their duty, some of
them did it bravely, and when the war was over, came home with all the
honors of war.

How often have I thought how well it would be for the Irish National
cause of my day if it had a draft law that would make its votaries toe
the mark at the call of duty. Those votaries swear it is by the sword
alone they are to free Ireland, but when danger threatens it how many
of them are found to think the country can be freed without using any
sword at all?

That’s what made Parnell and parliamentary agitation so strong in
Ireland, England and America a dozen years ago; the leaders of the
“sword alone,” men “ratted,” and turned in to free Ireland by fighting
her battles in the London parliament. That’s what paralyzed the spirit
of the Irish National cause and makes it to-day so dead as it is.
England has the whip hand in Ireland, and is whipping the Irish people
out of the country. In one ship that came into New York harbor this
week (April, 1898), 247 young Irish girls came in to New York!

When commencing to write this chapter, I looked into a New York City
directory to see if I would find the Mr. Kelly whom I speak of, and who
lived in Beaver street in 1863. I saw the name of Horace R. Kelly. I
wrote to Horace R. I asked what was the Christian name of his father.
In reply to my inquiry I get this note:

                                         COLORADO SPRINGS, May 8, 1898.

    DEAR MR. ROSSA--Your card was forwarded to me here, and in
    reply, I inform you that my father’s name was Robert E. Kelly;
    and I am delighted to see how kindly you remember him.

    I am no longer in Beaver street; but have moved to our Factory
    building at the corner of Avenue A. and 71st street, where
    I expect to be in about two weeks. I hope you will let me
    know where I can get a copy of your book, when you will have
    published it.

        I remain, sincerely yours,

                                                       HORACE R. KELLY.

It has often surprised me the number of Americans who are in New York,
whose blood is Irish, and who would show themselves Irish in heart and
soul and pocket, if enslaved Ireland was trying to do anything that
would be worth assistance or sacrifice.



In the spirit of the concluding words of the last chapter, I take
_this_ last chapter of the first volume of my “Recollections,” from
the recollections of Mr. Crimmins who has lived in New York for the
past sixty-three years. In his early life, he was acquainted with many
of the _United Irishmen_ of ’98, who had made their homes in America,
after the years of the trouble. It is among my “recollections,” to have
met Mr. Crimmins; to have talked with him; and to have received from
him information regarding the men of ’98 that was not in my possession
before I met him. So that it is not at all out of place for me to put
it in my book.

I wrote it the day after I met Mr. Crimmins; and this is how I wrote it:

I promised, in a late issue of the _United Irishmen_, to tell something
about my entertainment, a night I spent shanachiechting with Father Tom
Crimmins at his home. Some nights before that, I met him at a “wake”
at Mr. Donegan’s house; he told me so many things about old times in
Ireland, and old times in America--historical things I may say, which
I did not know, and which you do not now know--that I got very much
interested in the information I was getting from him. For instance:
there are those monuments in St. Paul’s churchyard, near the Post
Office, erected to the memory of Emmet and McNevin, of the _United
Irishmen_ of 1798--it was a surprise to me to hear him tell me that
those men are not buried in that churchyard at all; that Dr. McNevin
is buried in Newtown, Long Island; and Thomas Addis Emmet is buried in
that graveyard in Second Street, Second Avenue, New York.

I often in the pages of this paper, in writing about Decoration day,
spoke of “the graves of Emmet and McNevin in St. Paul’s churchyard”;
and, as a matter of course, must have often misled my readers. So, it
becomes a matter of duty now with me to lead them right, by giving
them Father Crimmins’ story. I met his son, John D. Crimmins; I asked
him did he know what his father was telling me--that Emmet and McNevin
were not buried in St. Paul’s churchyard? “Why, of course, yes,” said
he; “in my young days my father often took me with him to Newtown to
decorate the graves of McNevin and Sampson; and to Second street, to
decorate the grave of Thomas Addis Emmet. You see monuments of respect
and commemoration erected in the city to General Grant, Horace Greeley,
Charles O’Connor and other famous men; perhaps it was with a feeling
of more solemn respect for the memory of the dead, that the men of the
preceding generations erected their monuments in the graveyards of the
city, instead of in the public thoroughfares.”

I went to Thomas Crimmins’ house for the special purpose of taking
from him, an elegy in the Irish language, that he had by heart, on the
death of an uncle of his, Daniel Barry, who was killed by a fall from
his horse at a fair in Dromcolloher in the beginning of this century. I
think it is best for me to let you see these Irish lines, before I say
any more; and, as I want you to understand them thoroughly, and want to
help you to read Irish, I will make an English translation of them, and
place them side by side with the original.

The name of the poet was James O’Connell; he was a weaver by trade,
and--after the name of his trade--was called Shemus Fighdeora. He was
learned in the Irish language, but was unlearned in any other. His poem
looks to me more like a “caoin” that would be made over the dead man’s
body at the wake-house, than anything else; because, here and there,
one verse is spoken as if addressing the corpse, and the next verse as
if addressing the mourners around. These are the verses:


    Is dubhach an sgeul ata le ’n innsint,
    Idir gall a’s gael, air gach taobh da m-bid siad,
    An fear muinte, beasach, leigheanta, bhi ’guin,
    Air maidin ’na slainte; air clar a’s’ t-oidhche.

    Is dubhach an la, ’s is casmhar, bronach,
    Gur leag do lair thu, lamh leis an b-pona,
    Do b’e sin an tra, d’fag tu air feochaint,
    Ce, gur mhairis le sealad, ’na dheoig sin.

    Is dubhach an Odhlaig i, go h-oban, da ceile;
    A bhfad o bhaile, o na cairid a’s na gaolta;
    A riar na leinbh, gan a n-athair a d-taobh leo,
    Ce, gur fhag le sgaipeadh, go fairsing da shaothar.

    ’S an Tir do baistig tu, a’s chaithis do shaoghal ann,
    Nior fhaigis leanbh bocht dealbh, a beicig,
    Gur fuar do chistin, a’s do theine bhi eugtha,
    A’s d’reir mar mheasas, ’ta an tirmisg deunta!

    A Dhonail Mac Tomais! m’ ochone! tu claoidhte,
    A mhic an athair, na’r bh’aingis le h-insint;
    Gur a m-barr do theangan, do bhidh dainid do chroidhe-si,
    Acht nior ruigis leat fearg, air do leabaig, a’s’ t-oidhche.

    Ni dhearfad dada air a chairid, na ghaolta,
    Acht labharfad feasda, air a bpearsan an aonar:--
    Do bhi fiall, fairsing, la-marga, agus aonaig,
    A’s na’r dhun a dhoras, le dothoill roim aoine.

    A n-diagh do lamh, ba’ bhreagh liom li-ne,
    Agus ni do bfearr, na air clar a rinnce;
    A d-taobh an bhearla,--ni dhearfad nidh leis,
    Mar ba’ Brehon ard thu, air lan da sgrioba.

    Da mba’ duine mise, do sgrio’ch no leighfeach,
    Do raighin chum seanachas fada air a ghaolta,
    Do scrutain gasra d’fhearaibh gan aon locht,
    A’s a gnio’rtha geala, na’r bh-aingis do leigheadh duit.

    Anois, o labharas,--ainm dibh, ’nneosad,
    Gui’guidhe, “Amen!”--agus paidir, no dho leis:
    Siol de sliocht Bharra--an fear Carthanach, Donal;
    Go d-teig a n-anam go Caithir na Gloire!


    There’s a mournful story to-day to tell
    Among friends and strangers, where’er they dwell;
    That man so learned, so gentle, bright;
    In good health this morning, now dead to-night.

    ’Tis a day of mourning; there’s grief all ’round--
    That your steed unhorsed you, going by the Pound,
    That the fall you got made you faint away,
    And die soon after, this woful day.

    A mournful Christmas is it for his wife,
    Far from home and friends of her early life,
    Her children ’round her, with their father dead,
    ’Though he left her plenty, to get them bread.

    In this your birth-land, where dead you’re lying,
    You’d leave no child, with the hunger crying,
    Till your kitchen froze, and your fire got out,
    And this fatal accident came about.

    Daniel MacThomas! ’Tis my grief, you’re dead,
    Son--of whose sire, nothing small is said;
    Quick, from your tongue, flashed your thought of head,
    But you never yet took your wrath to bed.

    On friends and relatives, I will not dwell,
    But of himself, in person, I can tell:
    At home, at market, fair, or any place,
    He never shut his door against man’s face.

    How grand to me--to write as you were able;
    And grand to see you dance upon a table;
    About the language--little need I say
    For you, as Brehon high--in that, held sway.

    Were I a person who could read or write,
    I’d record much about his friends to-night;
    I’d bring before you hosts of faultless men,
    Whose brilliant deeds would make you young again.

    Now, as I spoke, his name I’ll tell to you,
    Pray ye, “Amen”--and then a prayer or two
    For gen’rous Daniel Barry, dead before ye;
    Pray: May his soul ascend to God in Glory!

That Daniel Barry was called “Lord Barry” by the people around. His
father was known as Big Tom Barry--Thomas More. They were of the
Barrys of Buttevant. They lost the old castles and the old lands of
Buttevant, because their people stuck to the old faith in the days of
English penal law, and persecution. They were naturally “disaffected”
against the government of the plunderers in Ireland, and it was no
doubt, on account of the people knowing that Dan Barry was a rebel at
heart, that they honored him with a title, that would be his by right
of descent, if he and his house had what properly belonged to them.
From old manuscript papers that Father Tom Crimmins showed me, it seems
that he and all belonging to him at father and mother’s side were not
very fond of English rule in Ireland a hundred years ago. Many of them
were what are called “Irish rebels,” and had to leave Ireland. There
is on several of those papers the official stamp of American Courts
of Law, carrying the dates of the years 1820, 1812, and 1805. One set
of papers show that David Reidy had titles to several lots of land in
Cincinnatus, in the county of Cortland, New York.--5,000 acres--3,000
acres--2,000. That David Reidy was the brother of the wife of Big Tom
Barry; and the uncle of the mother of Big Tom Crimmins. David Reidy had
to leave Ireland, after the “rising” of ’98. Arriving in America, he
is found in the United States army, and engaged in the war of 1812. He
died without leaving wife or children, in New York City, a few years
after the termination of that war, possessed of considerable property
in New York county, and Cortland county, Thomas Addis Emmet becoming
his executor.

In the year 1835 Father Tom Crimmins came to America--landing from a
sailing ship in Perth Amboy, with eighty-six gold sovereigns in his
pockets. There were no steamships that time; steamships were not known
here till he came here. He came to see about this Reidy property that
was so much talked of in the family at home in Ireland, and brought
with him as much money as would take him back again. He brought with
him letters of introduction to the young Thomas Addis Emmet from some
of the old ’98 exiles who had been in America after ’98 and had gone
back to Ireland--letters from an uncle of his, Maurice Barry, a civil
engineer who had been engaged on the Down Survey of Ireland, and
another civil engineer named Landers who was married to one of the
Barry sisters.

When Mr. Crimmins went to Cortland county, he found that the land had
been sold for taxes--all, except eighty acres, on which was a cemetery.
This eighty acres, except the cemetery part of it, he sold out. A few
Irish families were buried in the cemetery, and he did not want to have
them disturbed. He then returned to New York.

When he delivered his letters of introduction to Thomas Addis Emmet, he
was received with the warmest of welcomes; he was introduced to some of
the ’98 men who were in New York, and to all who knew his Uncles David
Reidy and Dan Barry.

“If any soundings were taken around me as to whether or not I was in
need of any help,” said Father Crimmins as he was telling his story,
“I knew I had as much money as would take me back home whenever I
desired to go back, and I suppose I had pride enough to show that.
During my stay so far, I was a guest of Thomas Addis Emmet’s at his

“It was more worrying and more wearisome to me to be idle than to be
at work, so I occasionally made myself occupation in straightening up
things about the grounds.

“Then, when I thought it ought to be time for the very best of welcomes
to be getting worn out, and when I was talking of leaving, Mr. Emmet
and Mrs. Emmet begged me to stay, and take charge of the business of
the whole place--farm, cattle, arbory, shrubbery, plants, hothouses,
everything. The Emmets used to receive a lot of company; they kept a
well-stocked wine cellar; I held the keys of that wine cellar for nine
years, and a drop of anything in it, I never tasted.

“By the bye, Mr. O’Donovan, excuse me--won’t you have a drink of some

“No, thank you, Mr. Crimmins.”

“Wine, champagne, anything?”

“Champagne, did you say?”

“Yes, yes; I keep a little of everything in the house, though I don’t
make use of much of it”--

Here he was moving to touch the button, to call some one into the room;
I stopped him, telling him I did not taste champagne or anything like
it for the last eighteen years. He expressed himself, as glad, and
shook hands with me.

“That hand of yours, Mr. Crimmins,” said I, “doesn’t feel as if it had
ever done much work in its life, or, as if it had been ever fashioned
for any rough work.” (For a very large man his hand is very small, and
his fingers remarkably long and slender.) Smiling, he said I was not
the first person that noticed that; adding--“I had not occasion to do
much rough hand work in Ireland. I was born at the Cork side of the
boundary line, in Dromina; but I lived in Limerick since I was one year
old; my mother was born at the Limerick side, in Drumcolloher. She is
buried in Drumcolloher; my father is buried in Tullilease. My people
had their three farms on the banks of the River Deel--a river that runs
through the boundary line of two counties--between Dromina, Milford,
and Tullilease in Cork, and Drumcolloher in Limerick; they were large
buyers of cattle, and instead of my doing any work on the farm, I used
to attend the fairs and markets and attend to the shipping of the
cattle to England. So largely were we in this business, that if we
missed attending a fair, a dulness in the market would be felt. Coming
home from the fair in the evening, to the question asked: ‘What kind of
a market had ye at the fair to-day?’ the answer may be heard--‘Indeed,
the market was rather slack to-day; there were none of the Crimminses
at the fair.’ I had a great friend here in New York, Mr. Crimmins, who
knew your people well at home”--

“Who is he? Who was he?”

“Oh, he’s dead; all my friends are getting dead; he was John D. O’Brien
of Drumcolloher, who did business down in Vandewater street.

“Oh, I knew him well, and knew his grandfather better. His grandfather,
Big Daniel O’Brien, was the last man I parted with when I was leaving
Ireland. He put his arms around me and embraced me--lamenting that his
best comrade was going away from him.

“The last time I was in Ireland--nine or ten years ago--I was in to see
John O’Brien’s brothers, next door to the Victoria Hotel in Cork”--

“I was in there too, Mr. Crimmins. One of the brothers, Michael, was
the treasurer of my lecture committee in Cork City, three years ago.”

While speaking to Father Crimmins, I got mixed up in my genealogy about
the Emmets. He noticed it, when I said something of Thomas Addis Emmet
who is buried in St. Paul’s churchyard, on whose monument are graven
those Irish lines:

    Do mhiannaig se ard-mhathas chum tir a bhraith;
    Do thug se clu, a’s fuair se molah a dtir a bhais--

    He contemplated great good for the land of his birth
    He shed lustre, and received commendation in the land of his decease.

“Thomas Addis is not buried under that monument at all,” said Father
Crimmins, “he is buried in that graveyard near the Christian Brothers’
School in Second street, between First and Second avenues”--

“How is that, Father Crimmins?” said I.

“I’ll tell you,” said he: “Some people are not found out to be great
till they are dead; when Thomas Addis Emmet was dead to the people of
New York, they found out that they had lost a great man; they resolved
to erect a monument to his memory, and they erected it in the most
revered spot in the city. St. Paul’s churchyard was that spot, that

“Nor are McNevin’s remains buried either, under that monument erected
to him in St. Paul’s. McNevin was the second husband of his wife. Her
first husband’s name was Thomas. He was buried where that monument is.
The twice-widowed woman’s name was Riker. She was a sister to Recorder
Riker. The Rikers belong to Newtown, Long Island, and have their grave
in Newtown. Mrs. McNevin meant to be buried in the grave of her own
family and she had McNevin’s remains laid in that grave. Then, when it
became a matter of public importance to raise a monument to the memory
of McNevin in New York City, there was no difficulty in the way of
getting that site for it in St. Paul’s churchyard.

“McNevin’s remains are buried in Newtown; and in the next plot are the
remains of another _United Irishman_--William Sampson. In years gone
by, I used to take my boys with me to that graveyard a couple of times
a year; decorating the graves, twining the flowers of the two graves
into one connected wreath, representative of the two men who were
united in Life, being united in Death.”

“You said something awhile ago, Father Crimmins, about your first start
into business in New York, and about your having a story to tell me
regarding it?”

“Yes, yes; I took a contract to do $15,000 worth of work for Mr.
Phelps, a banker in Wall street. I did the work. I got the money. When
I came home I counted the money, and I found I had twenty-five hundred
dollars over my right. I went down to him the next morning, and handed
him the parcel of money, asked him to count it, as I thought there was
some mistake. He said I should have counted it, and made sure of it,
before I left the bank the day before; that it was no proper way to
do business, to come in now, telling him the amount was short. ‘Oh,’
said I, ‘Mr. Phelps perhaps ’tis on the other foot, the boot is; you
will see when you count the money.’ He counted it, and found the $2,500
mistake. He told Mr. Emmet of it; he told every one of it that had any
work to do in my line. After that, I got as many contracts as I could
fill--without making any bids at all for them. The cry went on the
street, that Crimmins was an honest man; and, left to himself would do
work as cheap and well as it could be done by any one.

“It was another illustration of the truth of the common saying, that
‘Honesty is the best policy.’ From the year 1850, up to the present
day, I have been doing all the work of the House of Phelps, Dodge &

       *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing twenty-seven chapters make a complete book. Anything
written in them is not dependent for explanation or understanding, upon
anything else that is to be written. But I will continue writing the
“Recollections” from the year 1863 to the year 1898. They (if I live)
will make a second book.

                           O’DONOVAN ROSSA,

                      Mariner’s Harbor, New York.

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