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1838 TO 1898. 


Customs, Habits and Manners of the Irish People. . 

Erinach and Sassenach — Catholic and Protes- 
tant — Englishman and Irishman — English 
Religion — Irish Plunder. 


The Fenian Movement. Travels in Ireland, Eng- 
land, Scotland and America. 







O' Donovan Ross a 























The Cradle and the Weaning . 5 

At my Grandfather's 10 

My Schooldays 22 

Irish Fireside Story and History 35 

The Emigrant Parting. — Carthy Spauniach 51 

The Gladstone Blackbird. — Many Features of Irish 

Life 61 

The Lords of Ireland 71 

A Chapter on Genealogy 80 

'Repeal of the Union" 101 

How England Starved Ireland 108 

The Bad Times: The "Good People." Jillen Andy: 

Her Coflfinless Grave 119 

1847 and 1848 130 

The Scattering of My Family, — The Phoenix Society . 141 

Love and War and Marriage 151 

Doctor Jerrie Crowley, Doctor Anthony O'Ryan, 

Charles Kickham, The Phoenix Society 177 

The Start of Fenianism 199 

Arrest of the Phoenix Men 206 

A Star-Chamber Trial 216 

The McManus Funeral — James Stephens and John 

O'Mahony visit Skibbereen — Fenianism Growing 

Strong 234 

The Struggle against the Enemy 251 

James Stephens and John O'Mahony 269 

A Letter of much Import, Written by James Stephens, 

in the Year 1861 282 



XXIII. John OMahony, Wra. Sullivan, Florry Roger O'Sul- 
livan, Brian Dillon, Jack Dillon, Michael O'Brien, 
C. U. O'Connell, James Mountaine, and others. . 300 

XXIV. Adniiuisteriug Reliei" 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'Ma- 
hony, Thomas Francis Meagher, Robert E. Kel- 
ly, and his Son Horace R. Kelly, Michael Cor- 
coran, P. J. Downing, P. J. Condon, William 
O'Shea. and Michael O'Brien the Manchester 
Martyr 378 

XXVII. Great-Grandfather Thomas Crimmins. — His Recollec- 
tions of the Men of '98, and other Men 391 


Sixty Years of an Irishman's Life. 



In the Old Abbey field of Ross Caibery, County of 
Cork, is the old Abbey Churcli of St. Faclitna. 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, 1881 ; that my god- 
father was Jerrie Shanahan, and my godmother Mar- 
garet 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 ray 
mother's father, Cornelius O'Driscoll. Jerrie Shana- 
han's mother was Julia O'Donovan Rossa — my father's 
uncle's daughter. She is buried in Flatbush, Brooklyn. 


6 kossa's recollections. 

Her granddaughter Shaiiahan 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 
godfather. 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 scat- 
ters 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 cen- 
turies. 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 Tam- 
many Hall Society, in the city of New York. 

Of the Fates that hover over my life I have no rea- 
son 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, for- 
tifying 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 1 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 moun- 
tains," 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, dis- 
countenanced 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 con- 


gregated in such numbers, abuses began to grow ; the 
votaries of sin came into his parish as well as the vo- 
taries 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 rec- 
ollection 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 ciii)ple turned round 
and told us to go Avay. 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 an- 
other 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 ; 
shonk; 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 blisters. 

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 T 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. 


AT MY grandfather's. 

It may be doubted that I remember things that hap- 
pened 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 shoul- 
ders, 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 fash- 
ioned 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 ! " 


AT MY grandfather's. 11 

Every allowance is made by English-speaking society 
for the man of every other nationality on earth speak- 
ing 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 figlit 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 baan, the laiiguage 
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 lan- 
guage natural to every one in the house was Irish, and 
in the Irish language I commenced to grow. The 

12 rossa's recollections. 

household of Renascreena consisted of my grand- 
fatlier 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 home- 
stead 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, Philadel- 
phia, 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 Sha- 
iiava; Kate, married to Martin O'Donovan-Ciuin, of 
Sawroo, whose son is Martin O'Donovan of San Fran- 
cisco ; 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 vis- 
ited 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 mar- 

AT MY grandfather's. 13 

riage came off. But a story is told about tliere 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 tlie "• 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 bleaclied took them away, Grandfatlier 
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 " — ''Til 
drown myself, I'll drown myself." 

"Oh," said the other grandfather, *' bidheach ciall 
agat ; ba ghaire do'n f hairge Donal O'Donobluie '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 at- 
tended to. And what a bright picture remains in my 
memory in connection with the milking time in the 
baan field back of the house ! The cows, munching 
their bundles of clover and looking as grave as Solo- 
mons, the milking maids softly singing while stealing 
the milk from them into their pails ; the sweet smell of 

14 rossa's recollections. 

the new milk and the new clover; the hirks singing in 
the heavens overhead, as if keeping time with the joy- 
ous 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 morn- 
ing, 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 insepa- 
rable 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, be- 
lieving 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 extermi- 


nated, 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 

The O'DriscoUs did not own the town-land of Rena- 
screena themselves, though the three families of them 
occupied nearly the whole of it. The O'DriscoUs 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 maiiy of them ; 
and they alhjwed more of them to remain in the land, 
on the condition that the}^ would pay rent to the Eng- 
lish, 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 Ire- 
land 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 my tenants as to send for 
the rent to them the day it fell due, what a cry would 

16 rossa's recollections. 

be raised against me." 1 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 jjeople. 

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, conven- 
ient 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 garri- 
son of Bandon Bridge." 

O'Connell's Memoirs give accounts of similar atroci- 

AT MY grandfather's. 17 

ties 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 in- 
fants on the points of their bayonets and dashed them 
against the walls. 

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 pres- 
ents to each other — earrings, brooches, rings and little 
things th;it 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 

18 rossa's recollections. 

port, lie, to give assurance of Lis 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 de- 
sire, or it is our pleasure, that the bearer be allowed to 
leave Ireland forever. A royal permit to exile yourself, 
to banisli yourself from your native land forever! Nach 
e an volumus e ! What a molamus it is I 

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 skeho- 
ries, 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 fiom 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 con- 
nection 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 m}- childhood's lecollections. I'll 
stop. If childhood has pleasure in plenty, I had it in 

AT MY grandfather's. 19 

this house of my grandfather, from the age of three to 
the age of seven. 

I am publishing a newspapei' called The United Irish- 
man. In it, I printed the two preceding cha])ters. 

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 Recollec- 

The traveling along with you, as it were, carries me 
back to the early morning of my life in tliat 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 in- 
firmities 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 

Oh, what memories you will call up in those recol- 
lections of yours ! How the hearts of the sons and 
daughters of Ireland will throb as they feel themselves 

20 eossa's recollections. 

carried back in spirit to the abbeys, the raths and, alas ! 
tlie ruins, around which in infancy their young feet 
wandered. For to no people on earth are tlie 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 ; T 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 op- 
portunity 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 mother- 
land. I have in other days wept as I read of your suf- 
ferings in British dungeons ; when, with hands tied be- 
hind 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 tliis, 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 man}^ very many, 
we must feel that in this world we sliall 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 
Uiiited IrishmaUy 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 scliool, and 
prepared for Confirmation and Communion. I had re- 
ceived 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 va- 
cation, and Tead Red, to help our master in instruct- 
ing 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, tell- 
ing 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 be- 
come poisoned with — Trust in the English to free Ire- 
land 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 

24 rossa's recollections. 

the Irish language. The priests used to preach in the 
Irish language. 

I say I wonder how the people of Ross in the genera- 
tion 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 genera- 
tions 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 un- 
der 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 confis- 
cated, 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 re- 

There were two of the old-time schoolmasters in Ross 
when I was a child. Daniel Herlihy was one, and 
Paniel Hegarty the other. I remember being at the 


house of eacli ; 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 ABC, if I was out of it at 
all ; because I recollect one day that I was in ni}^ 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 hall- 
ways 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 tlie 
end of the first sentence. I read on — 

"John threw a stone down tlie street. He did not 
mean to do any harm. But just as the stone slipped 


out of his hand, an old man came in tlie 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 tit- 
tering, 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 re- 
tain 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 Ire- 
land 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 brotliers 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 
leaders 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 cit}^ 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 Mill- 
bank, 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 recog- 
nized 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 

*'Stop, now," said I, ''stop. Never mind the lec- 
tures. 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 tliat we 
were mad with each other for something; wouldn't we 
be giving scandal ? " 

28 rossa's recollections. 

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 bruuglit 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. No- 
body 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 be- 
lieved in dreams, though ; he dreamed, three nights 
running, that there was a crock of gold under the wa.ll 
of his mill ; digging for it, he loosened the foundation 
stones ; the walls of his mill fell down, and tliat 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 countiy, 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 : 

30 bossa's recollections. 

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 fiills 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 

32 rossa's recollections. 

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 1 con- 
tinued 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 
ever}^ Sunda3\ Tliey'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, Iheard 
her say to my mother, '^ Nellie, a laodh ! coirnead 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. M}^ 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 " 
— " Wliat's that? What's that?" said tlie master, 
smiling, and I again read that that lady of the olden 
time " bore twines." I did not know enough to pro- 
nounce 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 flog- 
ging fioui him one time, for, before he struck me at all, 
1 screeched as if he had me half-killed. 

I was put into the vestry -room one evening, with hve 
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 rd 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 criuje for the 
people to attend mass. From the location of it, any 
one coining 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, 

34 rossa's recollections. 

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 111) 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 or 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 Ire- 
land ; allowing that the potato crop failed, other crops 
grew well, and the grain and cattle grown in the coun- 
try were snfficient to sustain three times 9,000,000 peo- 
ple. England and the agents of England in Ireland 
seized those supplies of food, and sent them out of the 


36 rossa's recollections. 

country, and then raised the cry that there was "fam- 
ine " in the land. There was no famine in the land, 
but there was plunder of the Irish people by the Eng- 
lish Government of Ireland ; and Coroners' juiies, 
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 recollections. 

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 befgre 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 Eng- 
lish prison : 

In sougs 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 em- 
brace of one of the men, would listen to stories of all 
the fairies that were ''showing" themselves from Car- 
rig-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 

In the skurreechting company at the fireside was an 
old man who had a lot of stories about wars and bat- 
tles. 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 out- 
side 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? Joaunie 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 Irish- 
man 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 

38 rossa's recollections. 

*' Oh ! " he'd say, " if they had only done so and so 
they'd have gained the day." 

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 re- 
gards 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 Ire- 
land. 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 vic- 
tims of England's plunder were made to fight against 
their brother victims in Wicklow and Wexford, who 
where 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 Irish- 
man red-coat soldier see that you are in earnest — that 
you mean fight — that j'ou 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 da3^s. 

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 
Ion," 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 serv- 
ice in the big pot of meat they were preparing for the 

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 ill which I was born, we had four looms in which 
four men were at work. Mick Crowley and Peter Crow- 
ley had "served their time " with my father's people as 
apprentices to the trade; tliey 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, 

40 rossa's recollections. 

I'd buy a ballad for it from blind Crowley, the ballad- 
singer, to hear Peter sing it for me. Peter Wiis a Re- 
pealer, 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 iu the groves of Blackpool, 
Aud euch jolly weaver will siug iu his loom, 
The blackbird in concert will whistle a tune 
To welcome Repeal to old £riu." 

And I used to learn some of those songs of Peter's. 
I have them by heart to-day. ''The Wonderfid White 
Horse" was a great oiie. 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 aud 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 "Tlie Kerry Eagle" is the one I 
used to take delight in. Here are a few verses of it; 

"You true sous of Grania come listen awhile to my song, 

Aud 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 threescore, 

He was the pride of the tribe, aud 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 note8, 
But he would not sing to the tune of their infernal oaths. 


"Theu back to Grauiawail he set sail like a cloud through a smoke, 
Aud told her that one of her loug galling fetters was broke ; 
For the Emancipation the nation stood up to a man, 
And my eagle in triumph united the whole Irish laud. 

"There was at that time a pert little bird called d'Esterre, 
Who cballeuiied 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, ean never produce such a man, 
Let us all rest in peace, and forever remember brave Dan." 

Oh, yes ; I have love-soiigs, too, with big rocky 
words of English in them, such as the song of the Col- 
leen 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 " Tlie 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 supjjose it 
was no regular battle, but the little boys at our side of 
the house used to celebrate the victory of it every July 

42 rossa's recollections. 

12, and march through the lanes and streets, with twigs 
and rods as guns,' upon their shoulders. 

Most of the grown people of my day remembered 
the battle. At the time of its occurrence tlie towns of 
Cork were famed for their societies of Orangemen, — men 
who were born in Ireland, but who were sworn to up- 
hold 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 gover- 
nors, that they acted as if their mission was the Eng- 
lish mission of rooting the old Irish race out of Ireland 
altogether. The spirit that harmonized with their edu- 
cation was the spirit expressed by those words painted 
on tlie gates of the town of Bandon: 

" 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 FlaviuD baud 

Beyond the Rowry water, 
Reviewed his forces on the strand 

And marshaled them for slaughter. 
They ate and drauk 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 drauk "Auuiliilation 
To that insidious, hated crew — 

The Papists of the nation ! " 
Their chief ad vanct'd along the shore 

A\id 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 ])y 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, 

44 rossa's recollections. 

Soou 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 


W;is by Margretta's dariug liatid, 

Knocked into deadly sluinl)eis; 
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 niazzard 
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 ihe shades, 

And tell Sir John the story. 
How a small band of Carbery maids 

Pulled down the Orange gloi.y." 
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 

46 rossa's recollections. 

To shnn their near extinction ; 
Some iVom their helmets tore away 

The badges of distinction ; 
Some iu 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; be- 
cause it was a fireside story in every house around me 
when ] 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 liere and there to the tside 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 

The poem is published in Dr. Campic n"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 Irish- 


men show themselves and put them in the power of the 
law, and have tliem either shot down or put to prison ; 
but, that tiie women of tlie 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," jMary 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 Ber- 
nard, 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 Town- 

Duhallow Rangers, Lieut.-Col. William Wrixon. 
Imokilly Horse, Col. Roche. 

48 eossa's recollections. 

Kanturk Volunteers, the Earl of Egmont. 

Mitchelstown Light Dragoons, Lord Kingsborough. 

Ross Carberry Volunteers, Col. Thomas Hungerford. 

Carbery Independents, Captain Commanding, Wil- 
liam 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 Ire- 
land; 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 admis- 
sion 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 said : 

" 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 origi- 
nal 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 " beg- 
gary " 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 plunder. 

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 

I suppose I did not. Nor do I suppose I understand 
them to-day ; for I cannot yet conceive how any Irish- 
man can be considered an Irish patriot who will sing 
out to his people, either in prose or verse, that it is im- 
possible 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 free- 

50 rossa's recollections. 

dom, 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 patriot- 
ism ; 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 tlie year 1841, the family of my father's brother 
Cornelius, sold out their land and their house, and 
went to America. In that house tlie 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, wlio belonged to 
a family of O'Donoghues whom England had plun- 
dered. 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 bi-ing out my father's family from 
Ireland, when they heard in 1847 tliat 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 
baud of musicians came from Clonakilty, and they were 
j)l;iying 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 
''Irisli missioners" started for Cork. I joined the pro- 
cession that went with them out of town. Out at 
Starkey's, at Cregane, it halted. There, there was cry* 



ing all around by the people, as if it was a party of 
friends they were burying in a graveyard. 

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 re- 
mained 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 back- 
door was opened, and out he went. I saw his shadow 
going up through the hill of the Fairfield. Mary Re- 
gan was the only strange woman in the house at the 
time, and she cryingly kissed and kissed the man before 
he left the house. 

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 Jeiiimie 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. Tiiis 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 boyliood 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, scrap- 
ing 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 tliem 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, go- 
ing 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 lives. 

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 Ceira hill, and by the old chapel school- 
house, 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. Tliey knew me, too, and knew Belle. They, 
too, were more afraid of Belle than of me. I could not 
throw stunes 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 pick- 
ing 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 con- 
venient in the big trees in Beamish's lawn, and flocks 
of those crows would come into the fields in spring- 
time 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 Spauni- 

56 rossa's recollections. 

ach used to travel the roads I had to travel those days. 
The mothers would frighteni 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 beg- 
ging ; 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 mis- 
sion 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 be- 
longs 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. Tliey 
are called "the nobility," '*the quality " ^ his people 
are called tlie "riffraff — the dregs of society." And, 
mind you ! some of our Irish people accept that teach- 
ing from them, and act and speak up to it. Ajid 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 0"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 be- 
longing 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 tlie crops frnm 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 liim 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 BeamislTs 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 '^ " Fd be the white headed boy 
with Mick. Mick's strong weakness ran in the line of 
love and self-admiration. 1 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 imag- 
ining that the whole Irish race should look upon them 
as the heaven-sent leaders of the movement for Irish 
freedom. God lielp 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 Vd 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 Duwling, 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 yon also left out,'* said he, these two lines iu 
the '' Signs of Rain " : 

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, straiglit, 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 1 saw her Philadelphia in 1863. 

I was up on the half-hutch 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, 1 came 
down from my perch on the half-hatch, and 1 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. 

60 , rossa's recollections. 

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 spiiit. 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 tlie 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 1 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 oc- 
casionally of a Sunday I'd go into tlie 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 Jackcy-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 bigblackbird 
began to screech and run fluttering, clattering and cry- 
ing " chuc-chuc-chucchuc-chuc." I must have leaped 
on the bird's wing ; I must have wounded her some 
way, when she could not fly ; so I tlionght, and so I 
ran after her to catch her. But the rogue could fly, 
though she never went more than a few yaids ahead of 
me. At the end of the field I thought I had her cor- 


62 kossa's recollections. 

neied, 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 liis government of Ireland, has 
often reminded me of that blackbird. The ruse she 
played to get me away from her Jiest 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 Eng- 
land — terror in the hearts of Englishmen. Gladstone 
chuckles *' chuc-chuc-chuc-chuc, I'll give you Home 


Rule for Ireland." Irishmen listen to liim ; they fol- 
low liiiu ; lie flies away from them ; liis 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 Englislunan is aban- 
doned by tliem ; his eyesight is restored to liim, and he 
is now writing Bible history. His " chuc chuc-chuc " 
is so much akin to my blackbird's '' chuc-cliuc-chuc " 
that I christen her the '* Gladstone blackbird." 

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 chiklren from destruction. Gladstone cried 
*'chuc, chuc," to keep the children of Ireland in the 
hands of their destroyer. 

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 I 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 roa<l I traveled going to the fair of Newmill, 
and the road I traveled the day I went to Lord Car- 
berrv's funeral. I have spoken of the Jackey-boys 
living on that roadside. Who were they '.^ They were 
b.)ys of the name of O'Mahony, "rough and ready 
roviiig boys, like Rory of the Hill." They liad a farm 
of land ; they had a fishing boat, and the}' 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 

64 rossa's recollections. 

pannier; one of them went into the pannier; the other 
let the pannier slide down till it was at the nest. The 
yonng 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 con- 
venient 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 niglits, robed in sunlight splendor. Every 
young man she'd meet between the cross of Barnamar- 
rav 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 obli- 


gation to meet her a certain uight in the future. Be- 
fore 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 fur deliverance from her fatally bewitching in- 
fluence. It was of her the poet, in the poem of 
" O'Donovan's daughter," hymned the prayer : 

'*God grant! 'tis no fay from Cuoc Aoibhin that woos me, 
God grant ! 'tis not Cleena the queen, that pursues me." 

I said that the road of Cli<jna'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 this. 

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 en- 
camped 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 liad 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 da3's and weeks after, going 
around to the different landlord magistrates making in- 
terest 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 obli- 
gation 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 beg- 
ging 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 recol- 
lections, 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 serv- 
ice 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 J 


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 ex- 
planation 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 P'een, Steplien Lovejoy, Pat Callanan and Paak 
Culliuane — 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 mark- 
ers. 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 

68 bossa's recollections. 

the fight had to be stoi3ped, 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 

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 dele- 
gation from the girls outside, asking her to let Jer» 
come out to play with them. 

You never saw any illuminations at the bottom of 
tlie 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 cham- 
ber 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 througli burned glass, and on Saturday 
night Fd 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 his- 
torians — 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 fatliers, in worshipping the sun, was only wor- 
shipping the Supreme Power that 2)ut that sun in the 
heavens. It was, and is to-day, the most visible mani- 
festation of the Great God of the Universe. 

On the eve of La Sowna, November day — and on the 
eve of La Bealtheine — May day, tliere 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 witli liim 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 

70 rossa's recollections. 

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 land- 
lords 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 English- 
man 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, 


T2 rossa's recollections. 

And what is more than that, neither religion nor 
nationality ever stood in the wa}^ of his plundering and 
murdering tlie children of the English invader vv^ho 
landed in Ireland a century or so before he landed 

The Cromwellians plundered the Strongbownians, 
and the English transported and murdered the Protes- 
tant Mitchels and Fitzgeralds, v\' ho resisted their plunder, 
as readily as they did the Catholic O'Neills and O'Don- 

And, holy Jehoshaphat ! how wholly and fiimly did 
these freebooters plant themselves in Ireland. I stand 
on the top of that hill wliere my school house 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 him- 
self fiom assault from the victims of that plunder — for 
many of these victims must be wandering around the 
locality still. I look to the nortli, and I see to the 
right the Castle of Cahirmore, the residence of the 
Hungerfords. I go up the Cahirmore ruad (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 any- 
thing on the grounds inside the wall, but I hear the 
beautiful peacocks crying out to one another. 


I look to the left, and T see tlie 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 Ruwry is the 
Bleazby residence, walled around by a wall some fif- 
teen feet high, with the Smith family at Doneen further 
south, having another wall around them equally high. 

T look to the south at my left and tliere is Castle 
Freke the residence of Lord Carberry. There is a wall 
around the castle and demesne here, that is, I sup[)08e, 
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 count}^ in Ireland and I saw them 
in every county. In Monaghan one day T wanted to 
see James Blaney Rice of Tyholland. I came out of 
the railway train at Glaslougli 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 sliut 
out from me a view of the whole country side. VVlien 
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 wjiicili tlie 
battle of Aughrim was fought. I had a walk of about 

74 rossa's recollections. 

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 resi- 
dence 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 cir- 
cumference of four miles and that, in the neighborliood 
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 tlie 
Strongbownian time. It is said of them that they be- 
came more Irish than the Irish themselves. That tran- 
sition 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 Ire- 
land, and they tried their luck there. They trespassed 
on the possessions of the Desmonds and the Ormonds ; 


SO the Fitzgeralds and the Butlers phiuted in Ireland 
had to fight against the new English coming in. And 
thus it came into Irish history that some of these But- 
lers 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 Settle- 
ment of Ireland," and Regnault, in his "Criminal His- 
tory 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 bound- 
ary, and of saving the plunderer from the chance of 
getting a bullet or a stone or any otlier hostile missile 
or message from any of the plundered people in the 

Those plunderers know they deserve it, and that is 
why they try to shelter tliemselves 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 peo- 
ple '* Caislean ui Carrooil," the Castle of the O'Car- 
rolls; Castle Bernard, the residence of the Earl of 
Bandon, is called Caislean ui Mahoona ; Castle Freke, 
the residence of the Freke Lord Carberry, is called 

76 eossa's recollections. 

*' Rath-a-Bbarrig," the Castle of the Barrys, and so on 
throughout all Ireland. 

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." 

Tlie 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. Notwith- 
standing 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 en- 
couraging 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 black- 
bird 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 Iiish 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 free- 
dom, 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'Ma- 
hon3's 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 judg- 
ment on the children of those to whom the lands and 
castles belonged. And these children, in cases of diffi- 
culties with the law, have to be running after the 

78 rossa's PwEcollections. 

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 stor}^ 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 bleach- 
ing in the field. Whatever offence the White boys 
were charged with, my people were put into the indict- 
ment with them, either as participants or sympathizers, 
or as assisting in the escape of criminals who had com- 
mitted 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 us- 
ing all the infiuence 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 morn- 
ing. There were no trains running anywhere at that 
time. He got on horseback, and galloped to Rossmore. 
He got a fresh horse at Rossmore. Tlien 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 genealog}', and 
come to show you how my grandfather had family re- 
hatioijs and connections in every corner of the county, 
and then you will not be surprised at what I am saying. 
You'll be more sur[)rised 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 C'arberry 
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 

One of the Irish histories I read in my youth has 
these words: " The O'Donovans — a branch of the Mac- 
Carthys — had extensive possessions in the neiolibor- 
hood 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 Eng- 
lishmen 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 gene- 
alogy 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 col- 
lege, 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 chil- 
dren 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, Ed- 
mond, and Willie were the three oldest of tlie seven 
sons of John O'Donovan. The three of tliem wore put 
to jail in Dublin charged with connection with Fenian- 



ism. John was drowned in St. Louis, Edniond was 
killed in Africa, and I was at the funeral of Willie in 
Calvary cemetery, Brooklyn. 1*11 come to them again. 
Now, ]"11 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 t(j 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 w ho 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 

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 

82 rossa's recollections. 

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 

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 

" 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 ef- 
fort to turn everything Irish into English. 

That nickname " Rossa " comes to me from Ross- 
more, not from Rosscarberry. That great grandfather 
of Peggie Leary 's and mine was called " Donacha mor 


a Rossa." The word " outcaiited " that his great-grand- 
daughter Peggy Lear}^ 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 plun- 
dered 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 remem- 
brance 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 tliat 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 gov- 
ernment of this city, and many other cities of America 

My great-grandfather Donacha Rossa was niarried to 
Sheela ni lUean: — Julia O'Donovan-Island. They liad 
six sons. Those six sons were married into the follow- 
ing families: Dan's wife, an O'Mahony Baan of 

84 kossa's becollections. 

Shouiilarach ; John's wife, a Callanan of East Car- 
berry ; Den's wife, a McCarthy-Meening of East Car- 
berry ; Conn's wife, an O'SuUivan 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 

Those six brothers had three sisters, one of whom 
married into the Lee family of Ck)nakilty, one of them 
into the Barrett family of Caheragh, and the other into 
the O'Sullivan-Stuocach family of the Common Moun- 

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 famil}^ 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 con- 
nection that my grandfather got tlie 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 Cor- 
nelius 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 mar- 
ried into the O'Donovan-Dheeil family of Manly-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 \a anting 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 an- 
swers : 

Q. — What was the maiden name of the mother of my 
grandfather. Conn O'Driscoll ? 

A.— Ellen White. 

Q. — What was the maiden name of the mother of my 
grandmother, Annie O'Leary? 

A. — Ellen MacKennedy. 

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

A. — Mary. 

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 Noo- 

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 other. 

Another strange meeting at a funeral came to my no- 
tice here in New York one time. Dr. Hamilton Wil- 
liams, of Dungarvan, had me to stand godfather 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 Cork. 

I often thought, Avhile reading the tombstones of 
Flatbush and Calvary, what an interesting book of rec- 
ord 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 circum- 
stances 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 Con- 
naught 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 let- 
ter 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'Dono- 
van Rossa, the daughter of one of my grand-uncles. 
The mother of Counsellor Mclntyre's children, of San 
Francisco, is an O'Donovan-Ciuin ; her father is Mar- 
tin 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. 

88 rossa's recollections. 

In Loudon 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. 

'J'hen, 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 Dunmanwa}-, when he was a cliild. 
He was a grandson of old Jerrie Donovan, of Nedineh, 
whom I met in my early days — Jer-a-Bhaaid, who be- 
longed to tlie family of my grandmother, Mauria 'n 
Bhaaid. This New Castle Irishman was lialf a Tipper- 
ary man. His mother, before she married his father, 
Tim OT)onovan 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 letter : 

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, ^^ hen 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 ODris- 
coU was my godmother, and she was the sister of my 
grandfather, Cornelius O'Driscoll. Then tliat Ellen 
Collins' mother. Rick Roe's wife, was an O'Donovan- 
Island — a cousin of tliat Ellen Collins, though she was 
her mother. Ellen Collins is also related to her hus- 
band, as he is the grandson of Garrett Barry, for Gar- 
rett Barry's mother was an O'Donovan- Island, the sis- 
ter of my great grandmother. 

That Ellen Collins has bigger cousins in New York 
than 1 am. The Harringtons of Dun man way are the 
biggest and the richest butchers in the city. I was 
going up Second Avenue one summer evening last year 
and 1 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 
brouglit 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 liead as 
high as the richest man who walks the earth. Among 

90 rossa's recollections. 

the iieiglibors I was introduced to, was a Mr. Harring- 
ton, about seventy-five years of age. When he spoke, 
and while he spoke, his tongue was sounding in my ears 
as if it was iingling 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 

*'I was living in Dunraanway," 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." C<)]W 

That Tom Donovan -Roe was the grandfather of my (?j^^" 
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. Harring- 
ton's voice is to-day—after his fifty odd years hi America 
— as Irish as my own. 

The old Garrett Barry, Ellen Collins speaks of, was 
the grandfiither of Edward Barry, the member of Par- 
liament 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-Sguab- 
bera 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 grej^-linnet, and the wren, and the robin, and 



the tomtit, and the yellow-hammer, ami the lady wag- 
tail. 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 con e, 
When the hoys 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 tliat may 
affect every one who is not ashamed of having an Irish 
father and mother, and of having every one and every- 
thing 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 noth- 
ing to say, and I heed little what they say of me for 
Iiaving 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 de- 
cent father and mother's daughter too : 

"Through the far lands we roam, 

Through the wastes, wild and barren, 
We are strangers at home — 
We are exiles in Erin.*' 

92 rqssa's recollections. 

When Cromwell ravaged Ireland ; when the cry was 
to the Irish people of Munster, J^einster and Ulster — 
'*To iiell, 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 land- 
lord, and some who even owned the land got a foot- 
hold 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 Barr}' 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 Eng- 
lish 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 plun- 


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 tlie 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 heaid 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'Don- 
ovan's wrath is paralyzed by this confidence in his lionor 
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 broth- 
ers," 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 lionor 
to suckle the Sassenach robber's child. No Irishman 
of the old stock feels such a thing as that an lionor 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 land- 
lord of their land, and it was held to be a stain upon 
the name of a Rossa to make a matrimonial connection 

94 rossa's recollp:ctions. 

with any one who had an English hinclloid for a foster- 

How is it that yon 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 Irish- 
man 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 sur- 
veyor 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. 

Tiiis is making a little restitution to the Maguires, 
and it appeases their wrath a little. Andrew Maguire 
of Tempo, living at No. 2i2 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 child- 
hood with me about how she became landlord is that 
Lord Carberry stood sponsor for one of the O'Don- 


ovan-Island children, and made it a birtbda}' present 
of the town and townland of Ross. That's the child- 
hood story that got into my head. It is, perhaps, pos- 
sible 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 

" 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 mili- 
tary had evacuated the place, a branch of the O'Don- 
ovan 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 town- 
lands of Ross, and it is very likely there was a com- 


promise 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 posses- 
sion 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 tliem 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 recoid. I never was rich ; I never will 
be rich ; but I got some of the best nnd 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, 1 was stay- 
ing at the Victoria Hotel. Crowds of people were call- 
ing 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 
liiin. Passing by Ringaskiddy I told him I had some 
cousins living around there, and I'd like he would in- 
quire 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 mj^self known to 
her. I was her mother's sister's grandson. I asked 


her if there was any one around living belonging to an- 
other sister of her mother, that was married near Cork 
to a man named Hawkes. She said there was a grand- 
son 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 Well.)" 

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 be- 
longed. 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 Dunnianway, 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 lan- 
guage. 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 Don- 

98 rossa's recollections. 

ovan of Bauhagh, four miles above Dunmaiiway. He 
was a Dunovan-Baaid. He married a Kingston from 
near Drimoleague. Both died in Dunmanway about 
1846. My mother married James Scanhui. 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 recol- 

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 (ac- 
cording 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 1798. 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 liapp}^ deatli. 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 hus- 
band near the old Abbev. 

A few years after, his son Denis was outcanted of 
the large farm he cultivated, which embraced the 


plougliland of iMilleen and part of Froe. He moved 
to Ross, where lie erected the most commodious house 
then in that town. Here he engaged in the grocery 
and lii|Uor business, with much sucicess for many years. 
Jn his house tlie monthly conference dinners of the 
priests of the diocese were held np 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 adjuiiiing 
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'Ma- 
hony-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 i)rey by 
the marauders, to ensure the safety of their wives and 
children, removed to Ross. The money possessed in 

100 rossa's recollections. 

gold was sewed into the clothes of the women and 
children. After remaining a short time in Denis's 
house, the brothers resumed tlie linen business in houses 
which they built for the purpose. They were tlie 
largest employers of labor in the town of Ross Car- 
berry, where linen-weaving was in a flourishing coii- 
dition. 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 dis- 
position generous, but hot-tempered. 

It was a noted coincidence that your great-grand- 
mother, 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. 



I DID not know what " Repeal of the Union " was 
when I heard all the grown-up people around me shout- 
ing oat '' Repeal ! Repeal ! " It is no harm now to let 
my young readers know what Repeal meant when I 
was a boy in Ireland. 

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 tlie Parliament House 
in College Green, Dublin. Or, more correctly speak- 
ing, the Englisli breed of people living in Ireland held 
Parliament in College Green. The real old Irish peo- 
})le, who remained true to the old cause and the old 
faith, had no voice in that Parliament ; they liad 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 English- 
men, 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 rob- 
bery, and in the year 1782 they made a show of resist- 
ance, and got England to take her hands off them for 


102 bossa's recollections. 

awhile. But up to the year 1800 England had had in- 
trigued and bribed so much, that she bouglit over a 
majurity 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 fur 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 I Know ye not! Who would be free, them- 
selves 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 peo- 
ple 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 move- 
ment, 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 heydey of its vigor, and put 


him and hundreds of men to prison in connection with 
it. England gives great allowance to Irishmen in show- 
ing 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 

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 Eriu.' " 

*' 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 schuolhouse gate, the 
evening the news of Dan O'Conneirs 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 

104 rossa's recollf:ctions. 

days of the O'Connell movement! And bow delight- 
fully the birds used to sing! There were more birds 
and more people there then than there are now. Nine 
millions in 1815; 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 prep- 
aration 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 tlie leaders of Irish 
physical-force organizations of the present day can lead 
their forces into the fields of inoral force, to obtain for 
their country a freedom that they swore the}^ were to 
fight for. 'Tis desertion of that kind that made Par- 
nellism ; 'tis base desertion of that kind that leaves he- 


roic Irishmen dead and dying in the dungeons of Eng- 
land to-day. I'm getting vexed. Ill stop. 

Why do I make these remarks? I don't know. I 
have been talking of O'Connell and I have been think- 
ing 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 Dan- 
iel O'Cunnell, and the late Dr. Doyle, Bishop of Kil- 
dare and Leighlin. Dr. Miley, in whose hands O'Con- 
nell died, told me this at this table, and I firmly believe 

John O'Donovan was intimately acquainted with 
Fatlier Meehan, the author of the History of the Con- 
federation 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 Phoenix move- 
ment. 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 wand- 
men were the peace-police of the procession. Paddy 
Donovan -Rossa was prominent in command, giving out 

106 kossa's recollections. 

new Repeal buttons. Some years after, he was in New 
York with liis wife and his six sons — all dead now: all 
belonging to him dead now, 1 may say. Meeting him 
here in tlie year 1863, I said to him — "Uncle Paddy, I 
reiueiuber 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 sauie ; 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 Rei)eal movement, the Father Mathew move- 
ment, 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 w^ere 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 stoie, 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 I 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 re- 
quire 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 kulen 
with a sickly odor of decay, as if the hand of Death 
had stricken the potato field, and that everything grow- 
ing in it was rotting. This is the recollection that le- 
mains 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 pota- 
toes 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 rot- 
ting 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 rot- 
ted 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 re- 
member 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 

When my mother came home she came without any 
money. The rent was X18 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 story I 

110 rossa's recollections. 

Vol lime upon volume has been written and printed 
ab( lit 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 im- 
pressions 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 Provi- 
dence." 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 land- 
lordism — 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 leturn 
verdicts of " murder " against the English government, 
but England cared nothing for that ; her work was 


going on spleiidielly ; she wanted the Irish race cleared 
out of Ireland — cleared out entirely, and now some- 
thing w^as 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 I 
We adopt the English expression and call those years 
the "famine years''; but there was no famine in tlie 
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 ap[)ealed 
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 popu- 
lation of Ireland. What I say is historical truth, re- 
corded in the statistics of the times. It is English his- 

112 hossa's recollections. 

tory in Ireland all the time during England's occupa- 
tion of the countr}^ 

In the 3'ear 1846, the blight struck the potato crop 
in the month of June. The stalks withered away be- 
fore the potatoes had grown to any size at all. There 
was no potato crop. In fact many of the fields had re- 
mained 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 nourish- 
ment 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 hill- 
side — a mile long and a half a mile broad was a picture 
of beauty. 

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 vic- 
tory, 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 Ire- 
land." The Irish in America dance with delight. 


They get up a monster meeting in one of the finest 
lialls of the chief citj 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 Fer- 
managh, the O'Briens of Arra, the O'Sullivans of 
Duiikerron, the McCarthys of the Castles, the O'Don- 
oghues 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' con- 
tent, but he is not going to give tliem 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 England. 

114 rossa's kecollections. 

It is not tu vex Irishmen that I talk this waj ; 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 lie 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 Ma- 
guire, or of Philip MacHngh 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 OTlahertys, 
and O'Gradys, and O'Mahonys, and O'Callaghans, 
and O'Byrnes, and O'Neills, and O'Reillys, and 
OKeefes, O'Kanes and O'Connors, O'Crimmins, 
O'Hallarans, OTlynns, O'Dwyers and O'Donnells, and 
O'Donovans and O'Kellys, O'Learys, O'Sheas, O'- 
Rourkes, O'Murphys, Maguires, and Mc'Carthys, 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 
liaisli 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 zvas, before I ever saw the 
inside of an English prison. I am so from natuie. 

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 lieard father and 
mother and neighbors rejoicing — '' biiidhechas le Dia!" 
— wlienever 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 

116 rossa's recollections. 

Mitcliel say, that the luistake of it was, that more land- 
l(jids were not shot ! and didn't he say that if he could 
grasp the lires of hell, he would seize them, and hurl 
them into the face of his country's enemy ! Didn't 
Thonias Davis pray : '' May Gud 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 '' ever}- sword to the hilt" into 
tlieir bodies! Didn't J. J. Calhman pray "May the 
hearthstone of hell be their best bed forever! " Didn't 
Daniel MeCarthy-Sowney pray: '* Go raibh gadhair- 
fhiadh Ifrion a rith a ndiadh 'n anam air Innse shocuir, 
gan toortiig!" 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, Mun- 
ster 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 weie four brothers of them on the land of Derri- 
duv, 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 
Unney, and take the "whole family into it. Sonie 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 conver- 
sation. 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 tlie 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 whis- 
pering about. "Skibbereen! where they ate the don- 
keys ! " is an expressive kind of slur cast at the people 
of that locality. But, 'tis no slur. 

You have read, and I liave read in history, how peo- 
ple besieged in fortresses have eaten horses, and don- 
keys, and cats, and dogs, and rats, and mice; and how 
people wrecked on sea, have cast lots for food, and 
liave 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 

118 rossa's recollections. 

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, lie took sick in March, and Florry Donovan, 
the overseer of the work, put me in charge of his gang, 
while he was sick. 1 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 dead. 



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 111 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 figlit 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 


120 rossa's recollections. 

the daikness, it is not good policy at all to cry out to 
liiin 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 soii-in-law, a very wise man ; she sent for him ; 
he came to the house, and there was a family consulta- 
tion 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 con- 
sultation, 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 

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 


liere for the benefit of the little children who live in 
the house where this hook 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 Doo- 
neen, and she found me playing marbles at the court- 
house cross. She caught hold of me b}" 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 stiand 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 ob- 
tained a decree against us, and executed the decree ; 
and I saw everything tliat was in the house taken into 
the street and canted. That must be about the month 
of Ma}', 1847. One Sunday after that — a fine sunny 
day, I was out in the Abbey field playhig 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. 

122 • kossa's recollections. 

Some years ago, in Troj, 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 m}^ wants, I find more happi- 
ness 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 para- 
lyzed 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 tojnb in the Ab- 
bey 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 contagiiHis, and would 
be caught by going into the houses of the dead people, 
the time alluded to in those lines of " Jillen Andy." 

No luouruers come, as 'tis believed the sight 
or any death or sickness now begets the same. 

And as these lines come to my mind now, to illus- 
trate what I am saying, I ma}' 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 writ- 
ing 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 Beul- 
naglochdubh had rolled his white-spotted red handker- 

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 ; 

124 rossa's recollections. 

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 nie go 
with him to dig the grave for her. My mother told me 
to go with him, and I went. Every incident noted iii 
the verses 1 am going to print, came under my experi- 
ence that day. I wrote these verses twenty years 
after, in the convict ])rison 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. The}- were called 
" tlie 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 ever}' 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'lii 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 vyrhom in early days I loved to stroll. 

He'd often take me on his back to school, 

And make the master laugh, himself, be 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 Fbune," 
His "Croppy Boy," his "Phoenix 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." 

126 rossa's recollections. 

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-chanueling 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 Jilleu Andy went uncofl&ned 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 cast- — 

The spotted handkerchief that sofuned 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-Aiidy a:)! Tead-Aiidy I 
was stricken down with tlie fever that was prevalent at 
the time. I was nine or ten days in bed. The turn- 
ing day of the illness came, and those who were at the 
hedside thought I was dying. My heavy breathing 
was moving the bedclothes up and down. I had con- 
sciousness enough to hear one woman say to my 
mother " Oh, he is dying now." But it was only the 

128 rossa's recollections. 

fever bidding good-bye to me, and I got better dav by 
day after that. Then, when I came to walk abroad, my 
eyes got sore — with a soreness that some pronounced 
tlie '' dallakeen " ; but others pronounced it to be a 
kind of fairy-puck called a ''blast." An herb-doutor 
made some herb medicine fur me, and as my motiier 
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 

You, friendly reader, ma}^ 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. 1 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 
tlie 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 3'early literary 
pension from the English government. He earned 


such a pension by writiug that book alone. Enghuid 
pays people for defaming Ireland and the Irish. 

And men professing to be Irish patriots, in our own 
clay, write books defamatory of their own people. 
'' Wlien We Were Boys " is the name of a book written 
nine or ten years ago by one of those Irish patriot par- 
liamentary leaders of to-day. It is a libel on the char- 
acter 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 infa- 
mous 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 deciee 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 lie 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 chil- 
dren 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 Hol- 
land'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 ac- 
cepted the terms, and we moved into Darby Holland's 

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 


1847 AND 1848. 131 

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 hun- 
dred 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 live shillings in 
my treasury till next week ; next week I get in a hun- 
dred 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 X147. 

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 sldllet. They were not larger than marbles ; 
they were minions and had a reddish skin. When 1 
went home, and laid the basket on the floor, my mother 
locking at the contents of it exclaimed: *' Oh ! na 
geinidighe dearga death-chuin ! " which I would trans- 
hite into English as *' Oh the miserable scarlet tithe- 

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 re- 
mained; 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 del- 
egation of Young Irelanders had met with in Paris, 
when they went over to present addresses of congratula- 
tion to the new revolutionary provisional government. 

France had had a revolution in P^ebruary, 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 historj^ of Ireland : 

1847 AND 1848. 133 

"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 
thouglit 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 tlie only effect of leading the people's mind to 
what was called "a guerilla warfare," would be to en- 
courage some of the misguided peasantry to the com- 
mission of murder. Therefore it was that he declared 
he should not be a party to giving such a recommenda- 
tion. 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 secuied 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 tlie State from 
anarchy ; the other, to be prepared to die for the de- 
fence of his country.' 

*' Addresses, both from the confederation and from 

134 kossa's eecollections. 

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 
Hoi 1)^ wood, 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 con- 
victed him of these misrepresentations." 

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 Irish- 
men 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: 

My dear Friend Rossa : 

I was struck when reading your exceedingly interest- 
ing " 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 gov- 

1847 AND 1848. 135 

ernment, in printing and placarding the cowardl}- cring- 
ing pro-English reply of Laniartine to the thoroughly 
sincere and whole-hearted address of congratulation 
presented by the Irish deputation to the new pro- 
visional government of France. It would hardly sur- 
prise one to learn that the pro- English spirit pervad- 
ing Lamartine's reply was prompted by English in- 
fluence — influence that, though working in direct op- 
position 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 Lainartine 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 descrip- 
tion — aye, even on big trees 1)3' the roadside — any- 
where 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 disjjcl the doubt which gave |)]ace to dismay 
and disnppointment, 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 

136 rossa's recollections. 

your '' Recollections," I have tiaiiscribed it from an 
original copy, and bend the transcript to you as you may 
find a nook for it in your pages some time or another. 
Here it is: 


— TO THE — 


" 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 confedera- 
tion 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 tlie Irish Confederation, addresses were 
presented at the snme time by Mr. R. O'Gorman, Jr., 
from citizens of Dublin ; by Mr. Meagher from the Re- 
pealers of Manchestei", and by Mr. McDermott from the 
members of the Irish confederation resident in Liver- 
pool. M. Lamartine replied to the whole of these ad- 
dresses in one speech as follows : 

" Citizeyis 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 tlie 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 

1847 AND 1848. 137 

whicli animate her, by tlie nations or by sections of the 
nations of Europe. 

" We are not astonished to see to-day a deputation 
from Ireland. Ireland knows liow 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 depu- 
tation of your fellow citizens. We said as much to all 
tlie 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 pnetry 
and the heroism of the nations of the north. 

*' Rest assured, therefore, tliat 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 piivilege — tliat 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 i)ractise invariably toward 
the Irish. Tell them above all, that the Fiench Re- 
public is not, and never will be an aristocratic Repub- 
lic, in which liberty is merely abused as the mask of 
privilege; but a Republic embracrng the entire com- 
munity, and securing to all, the same rights and the 
same benefits. As regards other encourayements it icould 
neitlter bt expedient for us to hold them out^ nor for you to 

138 rossa's recollections. 

receive them. I have already expressed the same opinion 
with reference to Germany^ Belgium and Italy ^ and I re- 
peat it with reference to every nation ivhich is involved in 
internal disputes — which is either divided against itself or 
at variance with its government. When there is a differ- 
ence of race — when nations are aliens in blood — inter- 
vention 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 peo- 
ple. 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 7ve 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, 7iot 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 pro- 
claimed, and of which the continent of Europe is al- 
ready gathering the fruits. The fallen monarchy had 
treaties and diplomatists. Our diplomatists are nations 
— our treaties are sympathies I We should be insane 
were we openly to exchange such a diplomacy for un- 
meaning and partial alliances with even the most legiti- 
mate 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 partisan- 
ship of the one side we should declare ourselves the 

1857 AND 1848. 139 

enemies of the other. We do not wish to be the ene- 
mies of any of your fellow countrymen. We wish, on 
the contrary, by a faithful observance of the Republican 
[)ledges, 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 ir- 
ritate 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 propagan- 
dism, 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 I this 
cause of dissension between Great Britain and us, we icill 
never reneiv by taJiinr/ any similar course. We accept 
with gratitude expressions of friendship from the dif- 
ferent nationalities included in the British Em[)ire. 
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, tlie 
holy dogma of fraternity, we will perform only acts of 
brotherhood, in comformity with our principles, and 
our feelings toward the Irish nation." 

There is the text of the document. It is printed 

140 rossa's recollections. 

with Great Primer No. 1 type, except the underlined 
portions wliich, 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 Frencliman is 
dead, and that Republic wliich he so zealously guarded 
in the interest of England — not the Republic of the 
present, glory to it — is dead too I 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, 




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, Juhu 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 govern- 

At the end of the year 1848, my home in Ross got 
broken up ; the family got scattered. Tiie family of 
my Uncle Con, who went to America in tiie 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 Siuorane, within a mile of Skibbereeii. 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 '' Recollec- 
tions " may show. 

The day they were leaving Ireland, I went from 
Skibbereen to Renascreena to see them off. At Rena- 
screena Cross we parted. There was a long stretch of 
straiglit 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 Rena- 
screena Cross till this cry of the emigrant party went 
beyond my liearing. 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 yaiikee shawl and bon- 
net, looking as old as my grandmother, she was nothing 
more than a sorry caricature of the tall, straight, hand- 
some woman with the hooded cloak, that was photo- 
graphed — and is photographed still — in my mind as 
my mother — 

" Who rau to take me when I fell, 
Aud would some pretty story tell, 
And kiss the part to make it well." 

This rooting out of the Irish people ; tliis transplant- 
ing of them from their native home into a foreign land, 
may be all very well, so far as tlie young people are 
concerned; but for the fathers and mothers wiio 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 nat- 
ural 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, 

144 rossa's recollections. 

Leaving the "bad times/' the sad times, even though 
they were in the happy time of youth, I must now re- 
luctantly move myself up to the time of my manhood. 
From 1848 to 1853, 1 lived in the house of Morty Down- 
ing — 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 Phoenixism 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 com- 
mand of the military company at the execution of Mrs. 
Surratt in Washington ; he made a visit to Lehind ; 
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 L^oquois, 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 subject- 
ing 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, Arch- 
bishop 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 Perraad, a, French 
priest, writing on that subject snys 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 : 

''Jt 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 centur}-, 
the excess of misery to which Ireland was reduced had 
multi[)lied the secret societies of the peasantry. Who 
have denounced those illegal associations with the 
most presevering, powerful, and formidable condemna- 
tion ? Who have ever been so energetic in resistance 
to seciet 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 contest- 
ants against a persecuting government — and tliat 
signal they refused to give." 

I remember the starting of the Tenant League niove- 
ment in 1852, that movement tliat opened a field of 
opeiation 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 fr(^eing Ireland by pai-liamentary 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 w ill souii 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 mem- 
bers of a land-transport corps that England called for. 
The Irish National Cause was dead or asleep those 
times. The cry of Enghind's difficulty being Ireland's 
opportunity was not heard in the land. 

The cry of ''Enghmd's ditficulty being Ireland's op- 
portunity" is the ''stock in trade"" of many Irishmen 
in Ireland and Ameiica who du very little for Ireland 
but traffic upon its miseries for tlieir own personal 
benefit. Irishmen of tlie 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 spring- 
time 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 peo- 
ple, in wdiich he said that the Irish national cause was 
like a corpse on the dissecting table. Yet, the cause 


was not dead, though it was certamly stricken by a 
kind of trom-luighe — a kind of *' heavy sleep " that 
came upon it after the failure of '48, and after the recre- 
ancy of the Sadlier and Keogh gang of parliamentary 
patriots. The ''corpse" came to life again. 

I was in the town of Tralee the day 1 read Duffy's 
address in the Dublin yalion newspaper. 

My brother-in-law, John Eagar, of Miltown and 
I^iverpool, 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 pa- 
per ; 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 follow- 
ing 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 "Corrnption " hits 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 

148 rossa's recollections. 

Was, in chief, represented by many a knighf, 

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'Flynus, 
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 — paker 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'Sliea at the Mall, 
Then I went to my inn and proceeded to read, 
While the others, to get some refiesliments agreed. 
While reading, I fell into some contemplation 
When Duffy addressed "Constituents of the Nation,^^ 
And then, through what agency I carmot 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 fluukeys, 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 Kerry men 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 ray life were the same as 
they are to-day, and that I have not got into any boh- 
reens or byroads of Irish national politics during those 
forty-two years. 

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 Phoenix National 
and Literary Society. I think that Society was started 
iu 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 '' Phoenix National and 
Literary Society " — the word *' Phoenix " signifying 
that the Irish cause was agaiu to rise from the ashes of 
our martyred nationality. My resolution was carried, 
and that is how the word " Phoenix " 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, 111., 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. Down- 
ing and Morty Moynahan the following day ; and so, 
the good cause spread. 

In three or four months, we had three or four baro- 
nies 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 ru- 
mors 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 wlio 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 mem- 
l)er 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 mv 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 


152 rossa's recollections. 

son-in-law, Morty Downing, changed liis residence from 
one house to another, and enlarged his busine.-^s by add- 
ing 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 cleikship fcr 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. M}^ 
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. Possihl}^ he 
was right, but all to no use, I remained wrong, and kept 
my freedom. He would go to my aunt's place at Smo- 
rane--a mile outside the town — every Sunday evening; 
and, riding his horse '' Mouse " into town one even- 
ing, he saw me riding tlirough 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. Kittle, 
the boss servant, told me tliat 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 down- 
stairs 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 tliem, and left the house and went home to my 


mother iii Ross. She had not then gone to America; 
she was living in the house that was left to her rent-free 
daring her life for giving up peaceable possessions of 
the farm. 

That vi^eek, the wife and children of our cousin, 
Paddy Donovan in New York, were leaving Ross for 
America. My godfather, Jerrie Shannaluin, was the 
car-man who was taking them to Cork. I went to C(*rk 
with them. When they sailed away I came back to 
Ross with my godfather. We left Cork on Saturday 
evening, and were in Ross on Sundaj- 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 cer- 
tificate 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 Aoung lad. His con- 
duct, up to this, has been good and correct. I recom- 
mend him as one who will prove honest and trust- 
worthy. — Michael OTIea, 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 

154 rossa's reoollections. 

the outside gate - I met Aiidy-Andj, 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 uucoffined 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 Phoenix 

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 gwve 
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 
tliat come upon the L-ish 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'SuUivan-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 onl}^ descendant be- 
longing 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 trans- 
pired after those cousins of mine left Ross. The day 
tliey 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 jum[)- 
ing ahead of my story a little, and rushing into the 
cross part of my '• Recollections " I will jum[) back 
again, and tell how I got on after T came home fiom 

My mother liad 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 purcliase the whole stock in trade of Eugene 
Daly, a book-seller, who hawked books around the town 


and country. 1 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 scis- 
sors 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 ex- 
actly 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 Re- 
peal and Young Ireland newspapers of the previous 
five or six years. As soon as I'd get to bed at night I'd 
lead 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 par- 
tition, above my pillow. I kept a lighted candle be- 
tween 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 con- 
tracts I, a few times, visited the Poor Law Boards of 


Kenmare and Bantry. In Kenmare I was the guest of 
my em^^loyer's brother, Dan Downing of the Washing- 
ton 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 hand- 
some Kerry girls that played their nettlesome-night 
joke on me that night, are dead too. They couhl 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 my- 
self imbedded in nettles. At the breakfast table next 
morning, Mrs. Downing lioped I had a good night's 
sleep. I asked her which of the girls was the chamber- 
maid, 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 Hum- 
phrey Murphy, Myles Downing, Paddy the Ganger, 
and others of that com[)any. Stewart Trench, the land- 
agent of Lord Lansdowne, was that time in his glory — 
evicting the Lansdowne tenantry. The stories I lieard 
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. 
•»«• -jt -tt ^f * -tfr 

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. 

158 rossa\s recollections. 

Persecution y)y 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 beard 

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 Ken mare 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 mur- 
der him — for, the word ^' trench " has that meaning in 
Kerry. But the Kerry men did not give me away. 

This Trench had earned for himself the reputa- 
tion 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 Monaglian, 
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 DemocraV^ 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 Bermiugliam, the priest of the parish. The sub- 
ject of tlie 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 Ire- 
land during those past forty-five years! I quote from 
the ^^ Democrat'' these few passages: 

*' On Thursday last a meeting was held in Carrick- 
macross, 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 har- 
vest, 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 courte- 
ously worded letter to Mr. Shirley with the resolutions; 
but the only reply received was an acknowledgment 
from Mr. Gibbiiigs, the agent, a gentleman referred to 
b}^ ^Ir. Daly, M. P., in his speech as 'a mere day-serv- 
ant, a fellow employed at thirty shillings a week.' 
The Dean trenchantly described the answer as cold» 
cuit, callous, and heartless. He humorously suggested 
that though Mr. Shirley might not be expected to treat 

160 rossa's recollections. 

with courtesy the parish priest of Carrickmacross, he 
might have shown a little politeness to a brother land- 
lord. He (Dean Bermingham) is not the owner of as 
many broad acres, but lie is the owner of as fine a cas- 
tle — 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 hon- 
estly — he didn't get it from old Queen Bess ; and he 
was proud of owning the ancient stronghold of the Mc- 
Mahons, and having converted it to a better use than 
ever it was put to before. The Rev. cliairman referred 
to the fact that while lie 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 re- 

That is enough to show my readers, that notwith- 
standing 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 tyran- 
nous 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 Fe- 
nians 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 ive shirk our part of our duty, by going 
around the world preaching against England, on the 
anniversary of every day on which Englishmen mur- 
dered Irishmen. 

If we were the men tliat 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 speak- 
ing of it when Father Bermingham's speech about the 
Essex-Shirle}^ 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 sur- 
veyed 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 Lans- 
downe, who has his English title to the town of Ken- 
mare 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 "improve- 
ments " there. Trench went at his work with a will. 
He thought the people were too numerous in the land, 

162 rossa's recollections. 

and commenced rooting them out. Cromwell, two 
hundred years before that, brought ship-masters from 
England ; sliipped the Irish, men, women, and cliil- 
dren, 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 

Then, to boycott the Scriptural permission to '* in- 
crease 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 recngnized as the tenant in possession, should 
not give shelter to his father or muther, 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 ? 

Ill 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 be- 
tween 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 honey- 
moon with every woman who got married on his estate, 
lam not saying that Trench or his "noble" Lans- 
downe went so far; bat there was one of those English 
*' nobles " slain in Leitrini or Donegal a dozen }'ears 
ago, whose character came very near the mark, and to 
which account his death is credited. 

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 — de 
scriptive 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 lo 

And yet I cannot leave my 'box of literature * witliout 
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 
lov(3, 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 eyes. 

164 rossa's recollections. 

One Good-Friday night every one in the house went 
to the chapel to the Office of Tenebrae. 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 looms that night. I could 
hear some noise inside. I was not called in to be in- 
itiated. 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 
any tiling 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 ante- 
cedents, 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 sing- 

Oh ! the days of the merry dancing ; 

Oh ! the ring of the piper's tune ; 
Oh ! for one of those hours of gladness — 

Gone, ahis ! 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 "Schinderliannes, 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 
cliains 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 th:it 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 
a book by the name of *'Colton." It was a collection 
of many of the sayings of the great writers. One 
paragrai)h in it stuck fast in my mind, and it is in my 
mind still. It is this; "That head is not properly 

166 rossa's recollections. 

constituted that cannot accommodate itself to what- 
ever pillow the vicissitudes of fortune may place 
under it." 

That sentence seems to light up in my head whenever 
the cloudsof " hard times" hover over me — and that is 
often enough. That is how it lights up before me at 

Morty Downing, of Skibbereen, was a Poor Law 
Guardian ; and, in connection with his business, I got 
acquainted with every one connected with the Skib- 
bereen Poor Law Union. Neddie Hegarty, the [)orter 
at the main gate, was the man I skurieechted most 
with. He had most to tell me about the starvation 
times of the years that had just passed by. The Chair- 
man of the Board, during most of those times, was 
Lioney Fleming, of Oldcourt, a small landlord mngis- 
trate. He was a. pretty fair specimen of the English 
planter in Ireland, who consitlers 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 weie burying them in hundreds every week," said 
Neddie to me one day, *' the first salute Pd 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 buy. He was lame ; 
he had been dead and buried, but had been brought 
back to life by a stroke of Rackateen's shovel. Rack- 
ateen was the name by wliicli the poorhouse under- 
taker 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 pro- 
truded 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 
tlie 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 iiad 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 

ins rossa's recollections. 

such a murderous weapon as that," said the magistrate, 
" ought to be prosecuted.'* Touching McCarthy Down- 
ing 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 manufac- 
turer 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 cV etat of Louis 
Napoleon, in December, 1851, when coming on the 
termination of his four years' presidency of the Repub- 
lic. I find that time and circumstance alluded to this 
wa}^ 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 out- 
break." 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 cV 
etat in Paris; he spoke warmly on the subject, and said 
that that tyi ant 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 consider- 
able pain of mind, seven or eight years afterward, that 
I found myself obliged to have a new^spaper quarrel 
with him about Irish revolutionary affairs. 

In those visits I made to Bantry I got acquainted 
witli 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 hard- 
ware store as clerk, and increase that salary if I de- 
served the increase. I told him I would bear the mat- 
ter 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 tliem re- 
mained 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'Sul- 

170 rossa's recollections. 

livan. Ife was from a place called Ross MacOwen, at 
the Berehaven side of Bantry Bay. I used to call him 
Eoghaiij, O Ross-Mac-Eoghain. Here is where I want 
to make a i)oint in a matter of Irish history. Histor- 
ians who have written on the siege and surrender of 
the Castle of Dunboy, say it was a man named Mac- 
Geoghegan 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," " Mac- 
(leoghan," " 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'Sulliviin, that he was known as iMacEoghain ; but 
that the historians who first wrote up the history — 
being ignorant of the Irish language — took the pronun- 
ciation of " MacEoghan," and wrote it MacGeoghan ; 
and tliat blunder was followed up by pronouncing that 
middle ''g" in the word Geoghan— a ''g" tliatis always 
silent before the letter '^h." Thus comes into Irish 
liistory the error of having the defender of Dunboy 
Castle a MacGeoghegan instead ( f a MacEoghan O'Sul- 

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 Headfovd, County Gal- 
way. 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 Phoeiiix 
Park, Dublin, in the year 1882, the day he was sworn 
in with Lord Cavendish, to govern Ireland for the Eng- 
lish. The book publishers should also coriect that erior 
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 tliink I spent 
most of my nights in the hardware store. William 
Clarke had a brother who was a '48 man. Me was 
dead; but all his books were in the house I had charge 

172 rossa's recollections. 

of, and as all the old " Xation''' 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 Cloiinagoramon, and I 
knew she did not think the less of me for tracing my 
descent from princes and lords of Carberry of the olden 

Another lady used to preside at the tea-urn occasion- 
ally. She was a family friend — a Miss Brown of Ennis- 
kean, 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 giil ; 
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 perma- 
nent 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'Doiiovan 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 m;in named Dono- 
van was foreman there. His father was living, but 
was sick in bed. I went to his bedside, and found liim 
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 opin- 
ions, and changing their way of living. 

When I met Billy O'Shea of Bantry in C ork 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, "1 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 teirifio battle fought at Balaklava, and the English 
were terribly cut up, and defeated. '' Thank (Jod," 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 iMadi- 
son 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 h;id four 
wounds in his body. One bullet had struck him under 
the left breast, and went clear through his b(,dy ; an- 
other struck him in the wrist and came out at the 
elbow. He remained a few weeks in the hospital; re- 
joined 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 Skibbereeiv, 
having had some kind of a falling-out wiih her. I was 
in her shop one Sunday evening; friends and neigli- 
bors 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 J 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 laugliing 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 sh^ p 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 lan- 
guage. 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 l)ook, 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! canied 
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 

176 rossa's recollections. 

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 arrange- 
ments 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 Bantiy ; 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 1 carried on the business of hardware and agricul- 
tural 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 words : 

"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 
Jolni O'DriscoU — a grandson of the Irish poet, John 
Collins, of Myross. When O'Driscoll was a national 
school-teacher, he had been u[) in Dublin in the train- 
ing school, and brought the book home with him. 
12 177 

178 rossa's recollections. 

When Feuiiiii 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 1 
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 I he was a proud, manly Irishman — too 
manly to live long and prosper in this world. 

In chapter xiii., I took myself, a Phoenix prisoner 
into Cork Jail in 1858. 

The readers of the United IrisJivuin 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 Ire- 
land's cause those j-ears — for that cause was apparently 

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 Fenian- 
ism — writers, too, who evidently knew little or nothing 
iibout its origin, it may be no harm for me to put on 
record what I am able to say on the subject. Any his- 
torical 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 tlien 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 
Phoenix Society. The phoenix is some fabled bird that 
dies, and from its ashes rises into life again. We had 
some forty or fifty members in that Phoenix Society. 
Our first meetings were in the rooms at the back of the 
drug store of Doctor Jeirie Crowley. 

We read in the newspapers one day in the year 1857 
tliat some Tipperary rebel had drawn on a wooden gate 
in the town of Carriek on-Suir the picture of an Eng- 
lish soldier with an Irish pike through his body, and 
that the Town Commissioners of Carriek had offered a 
reward for the capture of tlie 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 Carriek 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 subsci i})ti()n to the Commissioners; 
but that the flunkeys had concealed it fiom 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 doc- 
tors 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 whei'e there was distress and 
sickness and death. Doctor Jerrie was there, without 

180 rossa's recollections. 

fee or money reward. He died shortly after giving us 
his rooms for the Phoenix 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 frieud ; 
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 Ch\shatarbh 
Cries out "Ta Doctuir Jerrie marbh." 

How much — how numy, I cnn'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, 

Aud 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 uUagone ; 
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 theuce 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 tbe 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. 

182 rossa's recollections. 

Thus, for liis family the worse, 
His heart was larger than his purse. 
A widowed wife and orphans four 
In mourning sad his loss deplore. 
Skibbereen, for whoai he ever toiled, 
May pay some tribute to his child 
By educating him, to ^-alher 
A knowledge worthy of the father. 

The doctor had four children. The eldest of them 
was a bo}^ 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 ditferent 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 Catliolic 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 tlie gate to the grave. 
We granted them the favor, and there were the ten 
Catholic priests reading the Catholic prayers, and the 
eiglit Protestants, bearing the coffin through the grave- 

John Tierney, of Kings County, is reading those 
** Recollectiuns " of mine, and he sends me a commu- 
nication which T will make a place for here, as the sub- 
ject 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 wear. 

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 Kick- 
ham, 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 ap- 
peared 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 men- 
tioned 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 pe- 
cuniary 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, 


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 montlis 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 " Phoenix 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'Dono- 
van (Rossa) and the rest were prevailed on to go through 
the form of pleading guilt}^ having first stipulated that 
Daniel O'SulIivan 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 re- 
cognizances 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 tlie government pleased with- 
out 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 can- 
didate for the situation of Relieving Officer to the 
Skibbereen Union. In liis letter to the Guardians he 
said in his manly way; 'If you appoint me, notwith- 
standing 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 in- 
tensified his hatred of foreign misrule. Mr. O'Dono- 
van 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 Phoenix 
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 be- 
fore, but another Morty who was called Morty the 

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, 111., was, I think, 
the secretary of the meeting at that time. Denis Mc- 
Carthy-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 Bundalk 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 Fe- 
nianism took the start. James Stephens was in Paris 
at the time, and I think John O'Mahonj was in Paris, 
too. Anyway, they were in communicatioi) 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 Ire- 
land, 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 ^^ Phoenix^' 
newspaper in New York in the year 1859, when many 
men in Skibbereen, Baiitry, Kenmare, Killarney and 
otlier places had been arrested and put to prison, under 
the name of Phoenix men. 

How do I know all that? you may ask. Well, I 
know it this way : After the Phoenix scare had subsided, 
Jas. Stephens was living in Paris, and he wrote to 
Skibbereen expi-essing a wish that Dan McCartie and 
Patrick J. Downing would visit him there They 
did visit him ; not the two togetlier, but one at a time. 
Dan McCartie returned to Skibbereeen; 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. Down- 
ing 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 vras 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 Bun- 
dalk 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 Phoenix Society meeting of January 2d, 
1858. I got him to re-publish it ; and it is from tlie 
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 Phoenix National Society, Skibber- 
een, 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 din- 
ing together. Mr. D. McCarthy presided. When 
ample justice had been done to the good things pro- 
vided 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 gentle- 
men. 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 expe- 
rience, it is believed that less of the former and a cor- 
responding 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 wlien 
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 uni- 
verse ; but Irishmen should h-dwe a c(»untry; 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 

190 rossa's recollections. 

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 un- 
derstand, 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 Irish- 
men 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 sur- 
prised 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 dis- 
regarded every protestation, every claim, and every 
petition, and instead of treating us as human beings 
or subjects, she has made every effort that })en, fire and 
sword could make to extirpate our race. She has 
stained almost every hearthstone in the land with the 
lieart'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 mercenar}' 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, tliat ' vengeance ' which 
banished them is inscribed on their hearts, impregnates 
their blood, and may yet operate against that oppressor 
who, by his exterminating and extir[>ating laws, deprived 
them of a means of living in the land of their fathers (hear, 
hear, and cheers). 1 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 tlie seventeenth century she issued the following in- 
structions to Lord Ormond, and as the Eastern mon- 
arch said, I now say, 'hear and tremble': — 'That his 
lortlshij) do endeavor, with his majesty's forces, to 
wound, lull, 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 inhabit- 

192 bossa's rp:collections. 

iijg 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 indentity as of Milesian descent. Many of 
you possess similar doubts or feelings, for assuredly 
our ancestors were none of the favored chiss, and noth- 
ing 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 ex- 
termination 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 ex- 
tirpation 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 con- 
dition ? 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 an- 
other people to think and act for them? Why not 
Irishmen prefer the interest of their own to that of an- 
other country ? Can I attribute the motives to love or 
fear? Are we so pleased with the fostering caie and 
protective kindness of our masters, tliat 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 niost 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-ro^^alty should forward an 
address of commiseration and condolence, accom- 
panied 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 iov all ; he can starve 


his family a few pounds more, and lie 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 belong 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 de- 
manded 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 pre- 


mature rebellion ; and as Archbishop Hughes, of New- 
York, said when delivering a lecture on Irish starva- 
tion 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 nation alit}^ was 
destroyed— I trust not forever.' Irishmen have since 
experienced the happiness of being an integral portion 
of the disunited hinydom ; they have been relieved from 
the cares and troubles of native manufactories and in- 
ternal bustle, and they are now such an important peo- 
ple as to be saddled with an Mntegral ' 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 con- 
vict 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 memor3^ The two Thomas street mur- 
ders, 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 con- 
nected 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 sen- 
tence on him either as a truitor or a martyr, they re- 
tried him, and by a packed jury robbed and plundered 

196 rossa's recollections. 

liis widow and orphan children. Excuse me, Mr. 
Chairman and Irishmen, for trespassing so far npon the 
property of my successor, who is to speak of the men 
('f '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 indi- 
viduals who believe in the regeneration of my country 
through the agency of a viceroy or vice-?eme, through 
the propagation of high-blood cattle and the cultivation 
for their support of mangel-wurzel and yellow-bullock; 
llie latter would be very well in their proper time and 
l)lace, but I would reverse the order of things, and the 
comforts of human creation would be with me a pri- 
mary 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 ani- 
mal (laughter). To effect this, tlie existing relations 
of Irishman and Englishman should undergo a change, 
and now should be the time for the Irish nation to agi- 
tate for this change, and strive to obtain it by every 
proper means, so as to prevent a recurrence of the na- 
tional disasters of '46 and '47, when England allowed 
tiiousands of our people to starve, and blasphemously 
charged God Almighty with the crime, while the 
routine of her misgovernment compelled the cereal 
l)ioduce of the country to be exported. A curse upon 
hueign legislation. A domestic government, no mat- 
ter 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 pliysical force, and had the Repealers fol- 
lowed the example of the '82 men, and had they pre- 
sented 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 Irislnnen 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 pro- 
fession, 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, assur- 
ing 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 agita- 

198 rossa's recollections. 

tion or undertaking to obtain their rights, or an instal- 
ment of their rights, which may ultimately result in 
qualifying them to write the epitaph of Robert Em- 

It isn't that I say it — that wasn't a bad speech at 
all, at a time when Ireland was dead or sleeping. Peo- 
ple who write about the origin of that particular move- 
ment called Fenianism — knowing nothing about that 
speech, or about the Plioenix Society men, know noth- 
ing as to what they write about. If the license of a 
little pleasantry may be given me, I may say that sev- 
eral of my early-day acquaintances would often lament 
that I would not bind myself to the speech-making 
business, to free Ireland. 



In these times preceding the Phoenix arrests — from 
1862 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, 
f(jr the redress of their grievances. Men wlio 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 — iSo 
much so, that the population of Ireland is two millions 
less to-day than it was in 1852. 

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 nighttime, and wars and rumors of wars 
were on the wings of the wind. The lords and tho 


200 eossa's recollections. 

landlords were visibly becoming alarmed. No wonder, 
for their tenants who used to flock to Tenant-Right 
meetings cared very little about attending such meet- 
ings 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 ; 1 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, Diinagh, Kil- 
macabea, Myross and Castlehaven. D<in McCartie and 
Morty Moynahan, two other *' Centres" did the same. 
We set our eyes on the men who could cany their dis- 
tricts, 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 '' Com- 
mission 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 magistiates that I met 
in Ireland a few years ago, whose fatheis 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 
Phoenix 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 pre- 


sided 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'SuUivan of Kilmallock died last vveek. 
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 slie has 
done so. She has done it to wean them away from the 
National movement, and to paralyze that movement. 
*' Beware of the cockatrice I 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 ns 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 i)lanted 
the seed of our mission there. One Sund;iy, 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 Horn gur ceart e sin " — • 

202 rossa's kecolleotjoks. 

♦' Now P'ather Tim I don't think that's right." The 
priest liad to address him personal!}-, 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, JMoynahan 
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 tlie 
little girl told me who came to the door after I had 
telephoned on the bright brass knocker outside. Slie 
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 yejirs 
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 Skibbere n. 
That visit I made there with Dan McCartie and Moi ty 
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 sui)per 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 con- 
trol 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'Dris- 
coU, 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 trav- 
eled these three countries in connection with the organ- 
ization 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 — 

204 rossa's recollections. 

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'DriscoU and clan 
McCarthy, of the j)arishes 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 ; some- 
where else I gave the pledge to Teige Oge O'DriscoU, 
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 Finn een 
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 HoUiston, Massachusetts, the father of a 
large family of hearty sons and daughters. 

The McCarthy-Sowney famil}^ are a noble Irish 
family ; thoroughly hostile to English rule in Ireland, 
however thej^ 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 Mc- 
Carthy-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 pass- 
ing 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 scat- 

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 Kilkeiin}^ 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 tliose early years of my life — embrac- 
ing the Tenant-Right movement, and the start of the I. 
R. B. movement, the Parliamentary people were get- 
ting 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 Pd often say to myself, ''If I could 
s{)eak on that platform, how differentl}^ Pd 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 go- 
ing 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 tlie body of the hall. I made a note of 
the circumstance iu 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 
Stein way 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 vai ions 
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 TU go back to 

Besides killing the spirit of faction-fighting in Ire- 
land, 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 Muuster, 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 organiza- 
tions, 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 even- 
ings our camping ground was generally on the top of 
Ciioc-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 Balti- 
more " — 

" Old Inisherkiu'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 pic- 
ture 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." Sallivan-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 societ3^ 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 tak- 
ing blood-money. 

God be good and merciful unto you Kit Cadogan, 
and " Gud'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 

210 kossa's recollections. 

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 Kiliuacabea, 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 would- 
n't hurt or harm any one ; his dress was a bundle of 
tatlers 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 Hen 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 be- 
ing 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 stoj^ped Dris- 
coll 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' 


taibh — mar a ritbfiii triotha a*s futha, a's cathfain 
anairde san aor liom a'ircaibh iad." — *' Oh ! Jenie, dear ! 
what a pity that I am not a bull — how Td 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 I 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 "ren- 
der unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, 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 ques- 
tion, 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 stipen- 
diary magistrate named Fitzmaurice had taken up hia 
residence in the town. He had been sent to the South 
from the Nortli of Ireland, where he had won his spurs 

212 rossa's recollections. 

in tlie English service by trapping many Ribbonmen 
into prison. 

At tliis time too there came to Skibbereen from Kerry 
a man named Dan Sullivan-goula ; he took lodgings at 
the house (jf a Kerry man named Morty Downing, I'rom 
whom we had rented the rooms of the Pliceiiix Society. 
Morty liad 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 brothei s, whom a Captain Armstrong swore 
to the sciiffold in '98. 

Morty Moynahan had a letter from a correspondent 
in Ken mare 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 
Ban try man who did not know the bad character he had 
in his own locality in Kerry; that ncme of his Kerry 
neighbors would think of taking him as a member; and 
that no one knew what business he could have in Skib- 
bei-een, only bad business. But Fitzmaurice the stipen- 
dary had laid the plans for him, and had instructed him 
before he came to Skibbereen to write to McCarthy 
Downing, the attorney in Skibbeieen, asking for a posi- 
tion 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 let- 
ter 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 news-room 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 Colches- 
ter, 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 correspond- 
ence 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 mat- 
ter 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 
Postmaster-General : 

Most noble, influential lord, 

I hope some time yon can afford 

To read a modest application — 

To grant an hum1>le 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 ray name 

Ere I will sully thus my fame, 

While I have leave to state my case 

Ou this, before your Lordship's face. 

And now, my lord, to tell yon all 

Relating (o 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 be 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 tliat 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, T 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 ; 
l)ec;\use 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 McCaitie, 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 police- 
man 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 — contra- 
band of peace or war, I may say. I stood in the draw- 
ing-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 police- 
men 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 dis- 
tance 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 iiim, and he was taken with us to 
Cork Jail, though he never was a member of the 
Phoenix Society. He was simply a friend of miiie and 
a friend of Dan McCartie, and was at the entertain- 
ment 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 
niglit. 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 CuUinane, Denis O'Sullivan, and Wil- 
liam O'Shea, who had been arrested in Bantry tliat 
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 Phoenix so- 

218 rossa's recollections. 

ciety ; tliat 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 drill- 
ing ; 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 
Phoenix 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 infor- 
mation 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 nble 
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 stipen- 
diary magistrate, knew well he was swearing falsely ; 
Davis belonged to Roscommon, and seemed to lia\ e 
more of a conscience than Fitzmaurice, for he used to 
occasionally address Goula, when McCarthy Downing 
was cross examining him, and say "Oh, you unfortu 
nate man I Remember you are testifying on your oath 
before your God ; " but 'twas all to no use ; Goula 
went along with his perjuries. Sir Matthew Barring- 
ton, the Crown Prosecutor, was down from Dublin to 



assist Goula in tliis star-chamber pi'dseciition. To pro- 
vide some kind of testimony that would make a corrob- 
oration of Goula's testimon}', lie put on tlie witness 
table one of the Skibbereen policemen, who swore that 
he saw Denis Downing marching through North street, 
Skibbereen '* with a militarj^ step." In tlie cross-ex- 
amination of this policeman, our attorney asked him, 
** Who was walking ivith Denis Downing?" The po- 
liceman said, "No one was walking with him, but he 
was stepping out like a soldier." And so he was a sol- 
dier — by nature and instinct — as many an Irishman is; 
lie 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 exe- 
cution of Mrs. Suiatt in Washington, America. He 
was released from Cork Jail that day of the examina- 
tion there ; but his brother Patrick — wlio 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 otiier iialf 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 

220 rossa's recollections. 

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 SuUivan-goula swore against 
us ! No, we would not do it." 

Patrick's Day came on; it was tlie day the Assizes 
opened in Cork. Morty Moynalian, 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 
— tliat 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 cliest, 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 tele- 
grams 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 ; m}^ 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 liour 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 wlio w^ere 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. Moi ty 
Moynalian, 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 out- 
voted in parliament on some division ; they " made an 
appeal to the country," and there was a general elec- 
tion. I was a voter of the County Cork, and I took it 
into my head to write to the English Lord Lieutenant 
of h-eland 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 pub= 
lished in the newspapers afterward. The London 
Sjoectator wrote a leading article about it. When 1 was 
in London in 1895, I went into the ^Sjjectator office and 
bought a copy of the paper of the date of May 14, 1859. 
The following is the article it contains : 


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 
Phoenix Society — wished, nevertheless, being an elec- 
tor, to record his vote at the late county election. He 
addressed a petition to the Lord Lieutenant to this ef- 
fect, and it certainly is a prize specimen of prison liter- 
ature. We must premise that Jeremiah O'Donovan — 
for this is his highborn name — is not a convicted pris- 
oner ; 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 returu- 
ing an honorable and independent man to the Imperial 
Parliament ; the support of this honorable and inde- 
pendent 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 at- 
tend the polls." 

He adds, with the most clinching logic: — "Your 
lordship will perceive at a glance that mine is no ordi- 
nary case." In counting up the Liberal and Derby- 
ite 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 resig- 
nation, 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 mini- 
mum, 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 Derby." 

Blanqui, the imprisoned Republican, was released by 
Napoleon, because he uttered generous sentiments ; in 

224 kossa's recollections. 

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 con- 
venient than the postponement of the election. Skib- 
bereen 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 re- 
turn 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 free- 

*' Light-hearted enough to poke fun at a viceroy from 
beliind 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 aud 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 graudsire, cut in alabaster 
Sleep when he wakes, aud 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 

226 rossa's recollections. 

ill prison till March, 1860, if we did not satisfy the now 
*Miberal "' 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 Liber- 
als than by English Tories, but there is very little dif- 
ference 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 Mea- 
gher 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, 
perha})S through another famine, the miserable delusion 
of a Parliamentary party:" 


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

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

{Private) J^ilj 2, 1859. 

Dear Sir— A proposition lias 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 re[)lied to say, that you have be- 
fore 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 

228 rossa's recollections. 

thing to do, anyway. He thought we should not con- 
sider 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 our- 

When he left us, Morty Moynahan, William O'Shea, 
and I discussed the subject. They are dead. T 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 owner- 
ship 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 

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 communica- 
tion with us, gave us to understand that James Ste- 
phens 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 Feuiaiiism," by Mr. John O'Leary. He 
says word was sent to ns not to plead guilty. I can 
say, and say trul}^ 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 re- 
lease offered, and we were let out of prison on the 27th 
of July, 1859. 

It was three months after, before Dan O'Sullivan- 
agreen 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 

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 stipu- 
lated 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 mucli change in the spirit of 
England and Englishmen regarding heland and Irish- 
men. Those who are reading what I am writing will 
not, I hope, consider I am doing much amiss in em- 

230 rossa's recollections. 

bodying in " Rossa's Recollections," some of the ex- 
periences of Irishmen who were fighting against Eng- 
lish rule in Ireland a liundred years ago, and compar- 
ing England's treacliery and duplicity a hundred years 
ago, with her tyrann}^ 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 in- 
jured, you add to liis injuries by extorting false protes- 
tations 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 liis "Memoirs" says: 

"After several months of cruel and secret imprison- 
ment, a Mr. Crawford, an attorney, was first permitted 
to break the s[)ell 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 be- 
lieve 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 insur- 
gents 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 signa- 
ture of many of the prisoners to the agreement." 

That was the famed Billy Byrne, of Ballymanus. 

Sampson, after making some bitter remarks on the 
tyranny that will impi'ison 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: 

'Mf 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 con- 

232 rossa's kecollections. 

junction with his government, of one of the meanest 
pieces of servility ever placed to the account of any 
plenipotentiary or diplomatist. When Arthur O'Con- 
nor, Thomas Addis Emmet, Dr. McNevin, and the 
rest of the United Irish Leaders, who had Jjrought the 
Pitt Ministry to terms which honorably secured their 
lives, were about to be released on condition of depart- 
ing 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 repre- 
sent 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 con- 
fined to England and to our representatives to the gov- 
ernment of England; but when that influence creeps 

A STAR-CrrAMliEll TRIAL. 233 

into the government of America, it is quite another 

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

Washington, May 26. — Tlie approach of the Vic- 
torian Jubilee served as the theme for an eloquent in- 
vocation to-day by the blind chaplain of the Senate, 
Rev. Dr. Milburn. 

" The long and illustrious reign of the gracious lady, 
Victoria, wife, motlier, 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 civili- 

Of toadyism of that kind, and of the kind that is in- 
troduced 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 pro- 
posed preposterous tribute to Queen Victoria should 
be a marked man. Plis 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." 



(vOMiNG Oil the year 1860, the men of Skibbereen 
took up the threads of the organization that were let 
slip through the arrest of the Phcenix men in '58. We 
met James Stepliens in Bantr}', and Mr. Dan McCar- 
tie, 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'SuUi- 
van's yacht to Glengarriffe, where we had dinner at 
Eccles' Hotel. Stephens paid for the dinner. Sailing 
through Bantry ba}^ Stephens was smoking a pipe. I 
lemember 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 hist 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 be- 
fore 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'Mcihony, of Bandon, announced to us that he and 
John O'lMahony would be in Rosscarbery on a certain 
day. Dan McCartie, Mort}" Moynahan and I went to 
Ross in Moynahan's coach. We met thein ; they had 
come to town in Banconi's long car. James OWIaliony 
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 intro- 
duced 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 lauds from the 
English, without getting back also the bnck 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 1804, I was trav- 
eling with Michael Cusack, John Sarsfield Casey (since 
dead), and some others, by the Galtee Mountains, from 
Mitchelstown to Knocklong. We st(^pped at a village 
called Kilbehenny. We strolled into the giaveyard, 


and there I saw a large tomb, on the top slab of which 
were cut the words : 


That was the tomb of John 0'Mahony*s family. 
Some days after, I stood within the walls of the ruins 
of Muckross Abbey in Killarney, and there I saw an- 
other 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, wlien 
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 
Belle w 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 Dublin. 

The funeral procession in Cork City was on a Sun- 
day. 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 com- 
motion 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 tluit there 
might be some necessity for using them. Some men 
were, it seems, in favor of making the funeral the oc- 
casion of a " rising " ; they thought it would arouse the 
c )untr3^ 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 fa- 
vored 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 
ci)ffee-room ; the subject of theorising" 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 

238 rossa's recollections. 

stop tliere of several minutes. A large crowd was oh 
the platform. If tliere was an attempt to be made any- 
where to take away the body, it was thought that 
would be the place most likely for it. James Ste[)hens 
was in the coach with us. He had previously given 
orders that the men of Tipperary town be there to pre- 
vent such a thing being done. As the premonitory 
bell rang for the starting of the train, Stephens called 
on the men to kneel duwMi 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 

During this week in Dublin I attended a banquet 
given to Colonel Smith, Colonel O'Reilly, Colonel Do- 
heny, Michael Cavanagh, Jerrie Cavanagh, and Cap- 
tain 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 Cof- 
fey's or Carey's Hotel in Bridge street. Father Con- 
way, 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 countr}^ and said that he was then 
traveling on a mission to collect funds for some parish- 
ioners 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. 

T had been for five or six years previously in corre- 
spondence 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 Engine O'Curry. 
I had a long talk with them. John O'Donovan asked 
me to tea next night at his home, No. 136 North Buck- 
ingham 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 niglit 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 Croinwellian descent," as John 
O'Donovan says to me in one of liis letters, wherein he 
speaks of the mother of his seven sons — Mary Anne 

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 P^enianism, 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 [)riest 

240 rossa's recollections. 

said anything in condemnation of the cause — but I was 
surprised when I heard John O'Donovan say in the 
priest's presence — ^^ the 2)riestswon''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 us'ed 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. move- 
ment, 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 let- 
ters of John O'Donovan, that I received from him be- 
tween 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 furm. 
If I do, I will print a few of them in the book. One 
letter in particular has some passages in it that I can- 
not thoroughly understand. It speaks of the Irish peo- 
ple 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'Connel 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 tliat could be done in the way of 
striking down English rule, and striking down every- 
thing 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 Dub- 
lin who never met each other before. They talked of 
the old cause, and of the national spirit in their respec- 
tive 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 
lier rule in Ireland, and shaped herself accordingly. In 
the policy of government she is not blind to what passes 

242 rossa's recollections. 

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 Con- 
vention 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 Ire- 
land. 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 ever}^ 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 trai- 
torous conspiracy, by a number of persons styling them- 
selves United Irishmen exists, and whereas, for the ex- 
ecution 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 as- 
sembled in great and unusual numbers, under the col- 
orable pretext of planting or digging potatoes, attend- 
ing 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 whatsoever." 

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 
Irisli people are always discontented, disaffected and 
rebellious — and have reasons to be so — but that they 
would be organized into a body actively prepaiing for 
fight is what strikes terror to her heart. The Irish 
Revolutionary Brotherhood were so preparing, se- 
cretly preparing, but circumstances connected witli the 
necessity of receiving a promised or expected assistance 
from America — that was not received — which circum- 
stances I will show further on — developed things so, 
tliat the organization soon became as much a public one 
as a private one. We were assailed publicly in many 
\\ ays and by many parties, and we had to defend our- 
selves 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 
18()1, 1862 and 18G3, and I cannot do better than re- 
produce them here. After that, T 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 Brother- 
hood in Ireland, and Fenianism in America, at the 
starting of the movement. 

Rossa's book says : 

*' I found the people under tiie 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, 

244 rossa's recollections. 

" I was ill 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 pur- 
pose 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 / feiichf 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 father- 

''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 tliem 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 carr}- the phylacteiies — if she could 


liiive 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 com- 
munity 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 sliould always be employed at some mischief, and 
tnking 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 liaving 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 tilings they were for frightening ex- 
terminating 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 

246 rossa's recollections. 

word that when you want them, I will give them to 

'' Well," replied I, ''as you make so serious a matter 
of it, you can have them." 

'' 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 stipen- 
diaries of England. 

'' These are small things to chronicle, but it is in small 
things that the enemy sbows 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 re- 
publican banners, and we issued private orders to have 
some of our best men, in from the country. The au- 
thorities 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 ' Liber- 
ator's ' family — was in command of the forces. They 
thought to intimidate us from carrying out the pro- 
gramme of our procession, and we felt bound to main- 
tain the confidence of our people by proceeding accoid- 
ing to our announcement. They recognized in our 
meeting of sympathy for the Poles a meeting of oigan- 
ized hostility against England ; they knew that bring- 
ing 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 im- 
patient for the ' time," and when the time is long com- 
ing, they are drooping and restless without stimulants. 

*'The officers of arrangement moved from the com- 
mittee-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, 
liad been sent to the mothers of young men on the 
committee, telling them that tlie 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 pro- 

248 rossa's recollections. 

ceecled to move, the magistrates came in front of us, 
with the police behind them, and stopped the route of 
0111' 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 conse- 

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 

The Committee — " Take that flag down. Now, Mr. 
O'Cbnnell, 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 toiclilights. Do you 
see anything else illegal ? " 

'* 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 

" I do not." 

The committee ordered the band to play up " Garry- 
owen " and march on. The boys did so ; the magis- 
trates moved aside ; the police behind them opened 
way, and the procession marched twice througli the 
streets, and ended the demonstration by tlie reading of 
an address. 

The marriage of England's Prince of Wales, in '63, 
came on a few nights after we liad the Polish sympathy 
meeting in Skibbereen, and some of the loyal peoiile of 
the town illuminated their houses. There was a public 
newsroom in the "Prince of Wales' Hotel," and as the 
loyalists liad paid the proprietor seven pounds for il- 
luminating the house, those of them who were mem- 
bers 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 commit- 
tee of the Polish procession were members of the news- 
room, 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 tlie liotel listening to tlie fight inside; 
they clieered 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 man- 
hood in the land that the enemy could not crush, and 
cannot crush, if we do not prove ourselves dastards. 
Acts of hostilit}^ similar to those I speak of, were oc- 
curring 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 i)eople, ''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 Stipen- 
diary Magistrate O'Connell, and Potter, the Police In- 
spector, 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 prac- 
tice 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'Gor- 
man, William JMcCarthy, Jerrie O'Donovan, John 
Heiiuigan, 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 Dowiiing, 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 


252 kossa's recollections. 

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 tlie 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 ''re- 
sources" 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 J(»hn 
O'Brien of Ardfield, Clonakilty, inviting me to spend 
some time with him in memory of old times in Skib- 
bereen. 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 fiom the head of the 
stairs, "Is that Russa? Come upstairs." 1 went up- 
stairs: 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 Fe- 
nianism, 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 ac- 
cording to its judgment. The historical experience of 
the Church regarding political secret societies is, that 
no matter how good the purpose for which such socie- 
ties 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 Ciiurch, 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 

254 rossa's recollections. 

he had taken a pledge or an oath to fight as a soldier 
for the freedom of his country. If I was a priest my- 
self, 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 Fatlier 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 Phoenix 
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 

After mass, some twenty of us left the town, and 


broke into the fields. We started hares and cimsed 
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, be- 
cause all the morning, police had been coming in on 
every road from the surrounding police stations, and 
the peoj)le 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 ap[)roached our quay John Limerick stood 
on it, and forbade them to land. "Boys," said T, 
" never mind what this man says ; this is a part of Ire- 
land, 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 fol- 
lowed him ; Limerick left the quay, and they marched 
through the village, with their band playing, up to the 
house of Father Kingston. 

Liuierick gave orders to close all the j'ublic 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 

256 rossa's recollections. 

Sergeant William Curran, or to Dockery (who now 
keeps a hotel in Queenstown), "I will leave it." "I 
won't put iny 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 ad- 
dressed the people, denouncing the village tyranny they 
were witnessing; Dan. O'Donoghue, one of the bands- 
men (a Piotestant), 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 lliat if I set my foot in Union Hall again it 
^vould be worse for me. 

Things gradually quieted down ; the police were or- 
dered 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 situa- 
tions lost their places. A few national schoolmasters, 
who were in the village that day weie suspended, and 
did not teach school in Ireland since. One of them 
was John O'Driscoll, who died in Boston a few years 

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 liad come to a queer 
pass when an Irishman, in his own country, would be 
forbidden to tread its soil. Why, said I, if you your- 
self 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. Wliat 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. 

258 rossa's recollections. 

The S2:)iiit of the men in the south of Irehind was 
running ahead of the times — running into fight with 
the hiws of the English enemy before the Fenian organ- 
ization in America or Irehind 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'Sliea, 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 Down- 
ing lost a leg at the battle of Gettysburg, Patrick Down- 
ing 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 susi)ected 
of belonging to the organization that many of them left 
the town and went to America. I left the town \ny- 
self, 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 lan- 
guage then, but the practice of the work it represents 
had been put in active use against me by the landlords 
of tlie 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 hmdlord 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 niglit 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 
Jiking for me, as you may judge by this letter of his ; 

260 rossa's recollections. 

O'DoNOVAN RossA — You slipped out of court yes- 
terday 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 revo- 
lution 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 


The "bill " in question was for seed supplied to the 
farm steward in his employment. 

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 Fenians. 


Some one saw me passing through the street that 
night, and I was summoned with others. Tom Somer- 
ville 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 wrongl}' 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 
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. Tliere was prep- 
aration 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 : 

Viilor'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 

Like to one risen from the dead, around him she will gather, 
Enjoy iug to see that be again has met his honored father. 

262 rossa's recollections. 

And now I have to leave Skibbereen — leave it for 
good — leave it forever, I may sa\\ 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. 

Bat 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 land- 
marks 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 Amer- 
ica, all my brothers and sisters buried in America ; 
twelve of my children born in America — and 3'et I can- 
not 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 
Ii'eland. 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 ihe 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 Irehuid 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 ubicpiity 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 paraly- 
zation 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 

264 rossa's recollections. 

twenty years to kill myself out of Irish life, and I see 
very efficient aid to that end given by some men in 
Irish soL'ieties 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 revolu- 
tionary societies of America by the controlling powers 
of those societies. No charges preff erred against me, no 
trial, 01 iio summons to appear for trial. A simple an- 
nouncement 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 in- 
famous 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 assas- 
sins 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 as- 
sassins. 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 


lor 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 pa})ers to my brother. He says he has notified 
you to cut them off. He says, and I say with liim, that 
your sheet lias 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 Bal- 
four, and bring him to his knees? Why? Because a 
coward always hoots, lie 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 tliat 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 liurt or harm Eng- 
land — without giving due dotice to England first. And 
I may add, that if any wealthy Irishman in the hind 
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 cooperation of 

266 rossa's recollections. 

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 organiza- 
tion ; 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 Gibnej' and Jones to their 
hearts. There is something rotten somewhere, some- 
thing to be cast out. 

In this chapter I have brought myself as far as leav- 
ing 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 or- 
ganization 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 organ- 
izers 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 peoi)le who knew me tliere. 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 memor}^ 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 Kilcroliane, 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 wlien 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 — tlie chiklren of Madame O'Donovan, 
of No. 37 West 36th street. New York, may live, as I 
hope they will, to be proud to say tliat their father was 
a trusted, true and tried friend of O'Donovan Rossa's. 
I have spoken of Father John 0"P>rien 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 fooKs day," 1860. 

Should you include tliis 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 yon 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 Mc- 
Carthy forty years. It is forty-three years since 
Morty Downing and Jer. O'Donovan Rossa were in- 
troduced to your old and sincere friend. 

John O'Brien, C. C. 



After the ari-est of the Phcenix 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 modifica- 
tion 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, C'antwell, 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 in- 
ability 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 ne^^er more hold higher position than that of rank 
and tile, till he shall have won his grades on the battle- 
field. 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 da}' 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 impossi- 
ble to meet them. We know, however, that one of 
these la^^t 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 ex- 
ceeded 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 com- 
pensate 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 consid- 
ered, aie up to what we could have reasonably ex- 
pected, and fully up to the figure I gave you. Add to 
this, that the spirit and bearing of the men were excel- 
lent ; 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 coun- 
trymen, 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 coun- 
try is at issue. This sort of calumny was useful to the 
bungling chiefs we wot of, chiefs who would fain pass 
for martyrs, tliough 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 unques- 
tionable — unquestioned — example of the higliest eccle- 
siastics of our Church, not excepting popes and even 
saints. Whereas now, there is an appearance (an ap- 
pearance 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, how- 


ever, go so far as to assei t 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 Ire- 
land ! 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 done. 

But, convinced of the earnestness of the men so 
suffering through their conscience ; who so callous as 
to persist in subjecting theni to a life of ceaseless 
agony ? I believe, too, that however unswerving in 
their truth to us, the arms of these men would neces- 
sarily be feebler in the day of strife. Besides, the con- 
ditions of a test would keep vast numbers, not a jot 
less eager for the fray, out of our ranks forever. I sa}' 
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 ef 
fective 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 

On tlie other hand, I am equally convinced that a 
great deal may be done by you, if the woik began by 
me be fairly carried out. And here, I speak in the 
name of God and their native land, to the nien who 
encouraged, or got others to go into this movement, 
that the}^ 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 representa- 
tive of the Irish cause ; you will soon perceive that he 
is an able man of high intellectual culture ; his bear- 
ing, 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 man}^ 
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 Ameiica. 

But while averse to the republican form of govern- 
ment 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 ex- 
treme friends. His faith in the success of the move- 
ment, 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 cooperate 
with us. Lastly, he does not know that I am equal to 
the task I have undertaken ; but, if not the most effi- 
cient of organizers, in his opinion I am second to no 
Iiishman 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 impera- 
tively 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 con- 
vinced of the necessity of limiting m}- 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 busi- 
ness — away from him, he will fulfil his mission as ef- 
fectively as anybody, however in accordance with our 

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 necessarj^ to con- 
vey to our friends that, in his private residence, he 
should not be subjected to what somebody terms "pro- 
miscuous visitings." 

Having decided, then, that O'L. should remain to 
do your work in New York, on you devolves the work- 
ing tour through the States. 

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 intel- 
ligence 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 I 
Best of all, that O'Sullivan, of Bonane, seeing that jus- 
tice was not to be had in British courts of law in Ire- 

276 rossa's recollections. 

land, 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 I Should the present administration remain in 
office — (my friend O'Leary lias 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 jierjuries, 
more packing of juries, more convictions and punish- 
ments, and (thank God !) the manifestation of more 
manhood in the land. For, as I was certain, even be- 
fore 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 3T)U 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 tlte gap, at home, expect more 
than from you ; that so much confidence and love de- 
serve 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 sol- 
dier 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 ren^ains un- 
shaken — 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 3'ou to some generous heart or willing arm 
in one or other of tlie States) to give you letters of in- 
troduction. 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 tliem 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 tlie 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 your- 
self. A very essential counsel comes now. Write at 

278 rossa's recollections. 

once to each of the centres, and (where there is no cen- 
tre) 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 in- 
structions 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 re- 
ceipts, 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 pub- 
lic 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 un- 
known. Take a copy of the accompanying diagram 
witli you. The headings of the columns ex])lain its ob- 
ject — 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 pass words ; 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 en- 
closed 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, tlie 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 tind 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 im- 
plicit obedience to the commands of superior officers" 
provides against their babbling piopensities, 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 tlie affairs 
of tlie 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 diiected, 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 

280 rossa's recollections. 

excursions, out of the main route, to small places highly 
recommended to you. The route I leave to the judg- 
ment of yourself and friends ; only recommending you 
to nmke 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 witliout 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 enougli 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, with- 
out special remembrance to my friends. But I must 
do it, else, another hour would not suffice to write 
down even tlie 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 impor- 


tance I attach to Lim ; 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 tliis head, I expect to have some- 
thing cheerful to say in my next dispatch. Tell Rcche 
and Mr. O'Dwyer so. In the meantime do not see 
Roche short; T 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 T could 
lay my hand on a few even now, and answer for what 
I said on this head with ni}^ 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 Ire- 
land'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 other- 
wise 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 re- 
ceived 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-correspond- 
ence ; 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 tlie 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 Irish- 
ma7i)^ 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 
astra}^ 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 thonjugh satis- 
faction ; Jeremiah Kavanagh, especiall}^ has been of 
important service to us, owing not only to his zeal and 

284 eossa's recollections. 

subordination, but also to his natural talents as a ready 
and effective speaker. But I wish it to be distinctly 
understood tliat I am thoroughly satisfied with all the 
Brothers. On their return, they can be of much serv- 
ice to us here, not onl}^ 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 
( ffer 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 scrib- 
blers or spouteis 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 jjerpetuate 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 op- 
portunity." Blind, base and deplorable motto — rally- 
ing-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 tlie "opportu- 
nity," 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, witliout the aid of any foreign i)0wer — 
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, witli mouth 
agape, and over and over again, waiting — '* biding their 
time " — till the opportunity came, and left them as be- 
fore. Accursed, I say, be the barren, lunatic or knav- 
ish 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 Meet- 
ing " 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 con- 
vinced 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, espe- 
cially 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 

286 rossa's kecolleotions. 

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? Tlien look to Europe. There, the 
feeling, and what is of far greater weight in human ac- 
tion, 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, iier eyes 
will be opened, probably, in time to stave off a collision. 
Granted, however, that human passions, human blind- 
ness — shall hurry the States into this war with Eng- 
land, 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 ques- 
tion, 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 round- 
about 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 busi- 
ness for you." How long will this state of things Inst? 
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 na- 


live land 1 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 con- 
trary 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 biing 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 wdll 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 compro- 
mise of some kind between North and South, and the 
consequent disbandinent 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. In- 
deed, 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 be- 
gin 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 recol- 
lect that, in nn^ letter of the 8th of June last, I coun- 
selled you to make yourself thoroughly aware of the 
spirit and action of those amongst whom you were liv- 
ing, and then take action yourself, always aiming at the 
greatest service to Ireland. Now, in case of a Avar 
with England, all the Irish race on the American con- 
tinent 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 posi- 
tion, 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-Amer- 
icans, could if hmded on our shores, give freedom to 
my countrj^, 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 cooperate 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 Vheure. 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 " Enghmd's difficulty being Ire- 
land's opportunity." And much more is it a letter 

290 rossa's recollections. 

W(Mthy of serious coiisideralion from tlie patriotic Irish- 
men enrolled in military regiments, and military com- 
panies, connected with Irish societies in America. 
Those men have the proper Irish spirit — tlie spirit to 
become proficient as sohliers — with the hope that some 
day an opportunity may come to them to light for the 
freedom of their native land. But tliis thing of wait- 
ing for that opportunity, instead of making it, (wliich 
Irishmen could do, and shoukl do) has taken many an 
Irish soldier to his grave without doing any fighting for 

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 \n ill be in my ''long 
liome " before I see Ireland free. For I, \o(\ 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 dangei', tlaring and 
doing all that brave men could dare and do for their 
country's free(h)m. 

When ,b hn (^'Leary was writing his "Recollections 
of Fenianism " in the Dublin ])apers, in the year 1896, 
he said that when the Phoenix piisoners were in the 
Cork Jail, word was sent to them by James Stephens 
not t(^ ac(.'e})t their release from jail on the terms of 
pleading " guilty." 

I know that the })risoners 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 abandcuied after 


tlio aircsts. There was general disorganization and 

Alter our release from prison Mr. Thomas Clarke 
Luby visited the south oi' Iri^land a li^w times. He was 
ill eommuiiieation with James Slcphcns in Paris, and 
with John O'Mahony. A letter he wrole lo John' 
O'Mahony in August, 18G0, will give tin; reader an 
idea of the difdeulties that beset the organization that 
time. This is it : 

DuBLLN, 2r)th August, 18G0. 
My dear Mr. O'Mahony I shall eomuKjiuui this 
letter by informing you that wIhmi your agent James 

Butler arrived in 1* , our friend there deeided on as- 

soeiating me with him in his Irish mission. Aeeord- 
ingly, eopies of your eoi resix^iKhmee with Chicago and 
St. Louis were placed in my hands ; also, eopies of all 
the passages of your letter to James, embodying 
charges, and, lastly, a long aiMl abhj statement written 
by our friend. J was instructed to accompany your 
agent through the country; to make use of those 
papers ; to jdace the charges contained in them Ijefore 
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 sfpiarely the ques- 
tion — whetlier our friend should withdraw from the 
management of the firm, or remain at his post; to try 
to i)roduee a pressurcj from the membeis of the firm 
here on those across the sea, and to caus(; such steps 
to be taken as would give you satisfactory means of 
demonstrating, in the teeth of all reports to the con- 

292 rossa's recollections. 

tiary 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, call- 
ing 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 un- 
bounded 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 signa- 
tures to the document, of principal shareholders, as I 

1 have carried out those instructions to the best of 
my ability, and in fact, my success in the business has 
gone beyond my warnjest anticipations. I would have 
written to you sooner, in order to relieve the anxiety 
which I know you must feel, were it nut 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 with- 
in jUI fi'om 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 false- 
hoods been uttered than the statements regarding our 
busine^js madly hazarded by that unfortunate rash man 
over there. 

To dare deny that our firm was bona fide and sol- 


vent! 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 ref- 
utation 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 tran- 
sactions 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 orgi- 
nally engaged to do. What, then, shall we say when 
we take Kilkenny and the other districts into our calcu- 
lation ? 

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 un- 
happy man, but also with unspeakable scorn and in- 

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 call- 
ing to mind the outrageously impudent statements 
which had been made in ceitain quarters, 1 often 

294 - rossa's recollections. 

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. Ahnost 
everything satisfied me. In some spots, where, np 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 con- 
fidence. Indeed, the refusal was based on grounds 
simply childish. This occurred in Waterford City ; 
but I have discovered another friend there who, with- 
out 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 

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 wonder- 
ful, considering all things. Bear in mind, tiiat 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 (U' less good), with 
three indifferently managed places in other directions, 
must all remain unvisited. This, for many reasons, 
which can be explained hereafter. 

T had almost forgotten to add here, that I expect that 
numbers of letters will be written bv friends of ours in 


various parts of Irelaiul, 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. 

T 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 hesita- 
tion 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 in- 
dulge in sanguine anticipations) — agreed with me so 
far, two or three days ago. But, when I speak thus 
confidentl}^ 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. Be- 
sides, 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, with- 
out stop or fall, things must go wrong. In short, there 

20() KOSSA's RKCOI.LK(rriONS. 

luusl 1)0 iiu'(>ssaiit activity, alike with you, ami with us ; 
and iutc'iiu)niniuiiication and entrrjJiiso, too. 

In fact, some Tow of our sliai'oholdcrs in the South are 
beginning' to lose faith in your branch, and to think 
nunc and more every day of sell'-rcliance. They are in 
soolh, a little disgusted with the great promises and 
lilll(> perlormance of some men at the other side who, 
let mc add, seem so ready to censure shortcomings, for 
which in reality, they have only tliemselves to blame, 
and lo believe the vilest slanders, backed by testimony 
insuilicient to convict, the basest of mankind. 
1 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'Ma- 
hony, and of his efforts to spread tlie movement. 
I^u-ties were saying that everything in Ireland was 
dead; that tluM'e was no organization there; that what 
was there, died out with the arrest and imprisonment 
of the men there. 

To contradict those re]K)rts it was deemed necessary 
by James Stephens to get to a document the signatures 
of the centres who were again working actively in 
dilT(M(Mit counties of Ireland, and to send that docu- 
nuMit to John O'IMahony. Mr. L\d)y exerted himself 
to get those signatures. Here is what lie says to Mr. 
O'Mahony, siMiding him the paper: 

OiTRLiN, Sept. 9, 1860. 
My DioAU Mu. O'Mauony— I send you the 


document of coiifidenco with the bigiiiiiiire of twenty- 
five officers of the " A " cluss or, as our American 
friends I believe, call (Iiem, liead centres. Consiihuing 
that circumstances compelled us to leave many good 
men unvisited, this is far from l)eing a bad result. We 
are all in good spirits tit home liere. Many circum- 
stances combine to enliven us now; among other ex 
hilarating causes, the prospect of a speedy visit from 
you is an exhilarating one. 

And here is a copy of tlie paper : 

We, the undersigned local rei)resentatives, in Ireland, 
of the Irish Firm — over the American brancli of which 
John O'Mahony has been appointed Supreme Director 
— hereby ex[)ress our unlimited confidence in the 
al)ility and intc^giity with which that gentlenuxn has 
conducted our affairs in Ameri(;a; and, also, our admi- 
ration of the noble constancy which has enabled him to 
sustain our interests unllinchingly amidst tlie severcist 
trials, and in the face of the most shameful and un- 
merited calunniy. 

We also testify, in the strongest manner, our ap- 
proval of the conduct and devotion of James Stephens, 
in the general arrangement of the firm, under similai* 
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 re[)resent us, against all their 
enemies, whether o[)en or disguised — their enemies 
being ours, also ! 

1. Pet(!r Laiigan, Dublin. 

2. Thomas (Jlarke Luby, Dublin. 

298 rossa's recollections. 

3. Joseph Dennieffe, Dublin. 

4. Charles Beggs, Dublin. 

5. James W. Dillon, Wicklow. 

6. Thomas Puicell, Bray. 

7. William Butler, Waterford City. 

8. John Haltigan, Kilkenny. 

9. John O'Cavanagh, Carrickon Suir. 

10. Edward Coyne, Callan. 

11. Tlios. Hickey, Coolnamuck Co., Waterford. 

12. Dennis D. Mulcahj^ Jr., Redmondstone Co., 

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, Laftana, Tipperary Co. 

19. James O'Connell, Clonmel. 

20. William O'Connor, Grange, Clonmel. 

21. Michael Commerford, Newtown, Carrickon Suir. 

22. Mortimer INIoynahan, 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 tlie honor 
and integrity of the two gentlemen who have labored 
so hard to reestablish 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 Ha we. 

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 ndd that there is not a line 
or a word added, oniitted or altered in this original 
manuscript letter of John O'Mahony's: 

No. 6 Centre St., N. Y., 4th April, 1859. 
To Wm. Sullivan, Esq : 

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 


joH>r o'mahony and others. 301 

absent from this for many da3^s without injur}^ 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 m^st 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 Phoenixes 
for tlie last five months, to have come directly to this, 
with instructions for our further guidance. After see- 
ing 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 liim here when you come in the 
middle of the month. 

We must calculate upon a certain amount of oppo- 
sition 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 societ3^ 
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 pre- 
scribed 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 our- 
selves under the Irish banner, when they say nothing 
against those who enroll themselves under the Ameri- 

302 rossa's recollections. 

Ciiii 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 priest- 
hood on such points. It is better to avoid their de- 
nunciatory 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 can- 
not deny the goodness, justice and even i)iety 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 wliere there are liberal and en- 
lightened priests, there need be no change. 

In every case, it will be well to give but as few se- 
crets as possible to individual members. They can do 
good work without knowing all that is doing, and who 
are doing it. They sliould be taught that it is enough 
for them to know that those in imuiediate communica- 
tion with themselves are trustworthy, and that they 
will truly and faithfully discharge the duties of their 
position. Men need not be sworn previous to lielping 
us along. They see enough by the newspapers to show 
them that the time for exertion is come now — that Ire- 
land 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 tlie Phoenixes, as 
they call them. In Belfast they have 20,000 stand of 
arms. Their organization extends through all Ulster 
and much of Conuaught and Meath ; it is also widely 
spread through England and Scotland. This [)arty was 
not included in my friend's estimate. It is most im- 
portant 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 contin- 
gency 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 in- 
itiated. Branches of our society have been also started 
in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut. From Pennsyl- 
vania I have received a most satisfactory communica- 
tion 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. Lnmsden, 
whom you may know. The result of the late trials 
will, I hope, excite our countrymen to work every- 

304 rossa's recollections. 

where. It is our first triumph, and, though but a par- 
tial one, it has proved that our home organization is 
almost spy-proof. 

Present my compliments to your brother, Mr. Ed- 
mund Sullivan. I felt greatly disappointed at not hav- 
ing seen him again at my office previous to his late de- 
parture 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 en- 
thusiastic 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 disap- 
pointed, when raised to the highest pitch, twice or three 
times witliin 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 action. 
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 m}^ 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 tbe field is nothing but weeds — with the pa- 
triots of the day grazing on them — to free Irehmd; 
growing fat and contented on them, too; satisfied 
they'll be able to arrive at freedom in the next genera- 
tion. Go b'hfoire Dia oruinn ! 

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 Ire- 
land 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 busi- 
ness ; 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 countr}^ 
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 suppres- 
sion 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 them- 
selves so active, zealous and independent, that they be- 
came marked men. While it broke his heart to have 

306 rossa's recollections. 

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 Ire 
land. I have some of the letters of those times. When 
1 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 days. 

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 hiui a few tiuies, and 
met a noble man. He was arrested as one of the Phoe- 
nix men when he was a medical student in Killarney. 
After release from prison, he went to Dublin and got 
euiployed 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 
f)aper that yuu 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 np there. I therefore address tliis 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. 6'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'Dono van — 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 Skibbe- 
reen. It seems that the latter is your next door neigh- 
bor, and your landlord, and that the former has your 
mansion taken, too. iMy friend in the house was tell- 
ing me that Sir John, and Grant and IMcAuliffe 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 w^e can. I 
am, your friend, 

William O'Carroll. 

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

Coi:k, 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 return- 
ing to Bandon on next Monday. I had hoped that 
either myself or my wife, or both, would have paid you 

308 rossa's recollections. 

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 TU 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 thiuk where'er thou art, 
Thou hast forgotten me." 

My dear Rossa — T 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 photo- 
graph from you that early morning in Patrick street : 
" No ship that was ever built should take us away from 

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 coinniittee in Cork Cit}^ Patrick's clay, 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 truly, 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 tlie house singing "O'Donnell Aboo" 
and " Is tiuadl) gan oighre 'nar blifarradh.'* 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 fiehl with him in '48, if there was any fighting 
going on any\^'hore. lie 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 
})eople show tlicmselves slaves, it is not the duty of 
priests to make soldiers of them. It is not for such 
work as tliat, that men are ordained priests. 

Brain Dillon died in prison. I have here a letter of 

310 rossa's recollections. 

introduction that he gave Michael O'Brien, the Man- 
chester 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 superfluous. 

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 as- 
suredly be a consolation to her to know that in the 
hour of her nffliction, 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 reniained here a week 
longer tlian he at first intended. This delay has en- 
abled me to communicate with Skibbereen. Donal 
Oge (Dan McCartie,) sends by him a letter to you. 
You will have read in the Iruhman befure 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 ; 
l)e intends joining the Phoenix Brigade, in the hope of 
learning something that he could turn to good ac- 
count, should opportunity ever offer liere. 

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 — ex- 
cept myself — and I don't want to keep it up in these 
*' Recollections " of mine. 

Mfchael O'Brien comes before me ngain, 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 lianded to you by 
brother Michael O'Brien, who has held on here as long 
as he possibly could. He has been out of employment 

312 rossa's recollections. 

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 Phoenix 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, hav- 
ing 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 Clias. O'Connell 


Yours fraternally, 

J. Kelly. 

The followmg is part of a letter of introduction 
brought from James Stephens to John O'Alahony by 
John, the brother of Brian Dillon : 

Cork, June 11, 1862. 

Brother — The bearer, Mr. John Dillon, has done 
the work of a B. Tliis alone should be a strong rec- 
ommendation. 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 carpen- 
ter), 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 sometliing about them as, owing to your com- 
plaints 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 pain- 
ful, too, to these men, to find themselves criticized for do- 
ing what they cannot help. Your having written here to 


this effect would liave [)revenled 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 Ids 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 3 1st of May, and have since visited 
the counties of Kildare, Carlow, Kilkennj^ Tipperar}^ 
Waterford, on to Cork. I could not now do justice to 
the firmness of all our friends; but such is my faith in 
them tliat 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'CarrolI. 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'CarrolI, of Cork City, and James O'Mahony of Ban- 
don 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 

JOHN o'mAHONY and OTHERS. 316 

and O'Donovan Rossa in Skibbeieen, and tluit they 
worked hard iii 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'Ma- 
hony from which I quoted before, there is another [)as- 
sage I may quote. He says *' You know my funds were 
always at the command of * Seabhac ' — (Sliouk — the 
Hawk,) and that as long as I had a red cent, it was 
fortlicoming. The amount was large as you may 
know." I know, that in the first years of the organiza- 
tion, 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 
Citjs I \^ill publish this letter of introduction that he 
brouglit 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 firndy, 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 

316 kossa's recollections. 

— 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 tliat 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 de- 
lighted to see some of our military friends in their ele- 
ment ; 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 interesting : 

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 in- 
telligence — 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 niontlis uninter- 
rupted work now. What might I not do ! Then, as 
already said, 1 could go to America with sucli creden- 
tials 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 con- 
viction 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 liim 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 in- 
structor. He was arrested as one of the Phoenix men 
in December, 1858. He was in the dock witli 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 tlie 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: Circum- 
stances 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) Reg- 

He died in Washington a dozen years ago. I went 
to Washington to liis 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 I 

Colonel Downing and Father Nunan were no blood 
relations ; but heie 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 sometliing oc- 
curred that brought me face to face with tlie English 
laiidlurd garrison of tlie South of Ireland; something 
snowed me the spirit of exterminating the old Irish 
race, that possesses some of tiiese landlords. Rumors 
reached Skibbereen in the month of May that much 
distress prevailed in the islands of Sherkin and Cape 
Clear — Tunis Cleire — ^' the island of the clergy ": that 
the people were dying of starvation. Special messen- 
gers from the island waited on the Skibbereen Board of 
Guardians, and pressed for immediate relief. A com- 
mittee of the Board, consisting of McCarthy Downing, 
Martin Jennings and James Murray, were appointed to 
take tlie matter in hand. They resolved to send a ton 
of meal into the islands immediately. The regular re- 
lieving ofiicer, James Barry— Shemus Leathan, as he 
was called — was old aiid infirm ; it was necessary to 
get an active man who would act temporarily as reliev- 
ing 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 1 cer- 
tainly would go on such a mission. I called on a neigh- 



bor 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. 
Tlie first island I met was the island of Sherkin — 
that island of which Thomas Davis sings: 

" Old luis — 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 tliat tlie distress was greater in 
Innis ('leire tiian in Innis Slierkin; that tlie 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 biUik, as if asleep ; we called him to help us 
to take the sacks ashore; he turned his head high 
enougli to look, and lay back upon the grass ngain — 
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 
U)V a few days, and she had sandwiched up as much 
food for me as would feed me for a week ; Michael 
O'Diiscoll'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 

322 rossa's recollections. 

near by. We made a fatal mistake; we were accessory 
to the death of tlie starving man ; he had eaten more 
than was good for him ; he was dead when wc returned 
to tlie island next day. 

We got into Cape Clear about nine. o'clock in the 
evening. News had leached there that we were com- 
ing. F^ilher Collins was on the strand, with convey- 
ance to take the meal to his house, near by. We dis- 
tributed some of it tliat 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 snp[)er and sleep at P'ather 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 Out- 
door-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, 
wc had about a hundred pounds of meal left. We de- 
cided to leave it at Father Collins's until we would call 
again, which we expected to be the following week. 

iVfter 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 witli heath. She 
could not sit u]) to cook the measure of meal that we 
ga\e 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 gi-ve 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 tlie 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 
tlie 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 pos- 
sessing 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 

324 rossa's recollections. 

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 dis- 
missed from the situation of temporary relieving officer ; 
tliat I get no salary for the time I served, and that I be 
made to pay out of my own pocket for tlje extra meas- 
ure of meal I illegally gave away. 

The fight on that subject continued for four or five 
weeks, during which time I visited the islands four or 
five times. 

McCartliy 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 Mc- 
Carthy 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 m}^ 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 under- 
stood by my giving you to read the following letters 
which I wrote at the time ; 


Skibbereen, May 28, 1862. 
To the Skibbereen Board of Guardians : 

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 unfavorable. 

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 con- 
sidered she died from want and starvation. I left un- 
distributed 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 unsup- 
plied with any, and I requested some of those su[)plied 
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 niade j 
|3ut I did my best. 


The people appeared more wretched and distressed 
ill 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 persons. 

Yours respectfully, 
Jer. O'Donovan-Rossa. 

The following is a copy of a bill 1 sent in to the 
Board of Guardians, with accompanying letter: 

The Board of Guardians, 

Skibbereen Union. 
To Jer. O'Donovan Rossa, Dr. 
18p2 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 of- 
ficer in my place, I believe you are all under the im- 
pression that my services are virtually at an end. As 
this is the day, then, for paying the officers, T put in my 
bill. I have heard it said T 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 
mure 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' salaiy, 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 
laised, 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 Commis- 
sioners, Dublin, at the time : 

Skibbereen, June 7, 1862. 
The Poor Law Commissioners, 

Gentlemi:n — 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. T went with all possible haste, 
and distributed the meal. I returned, and, according 
to the instructions of tlie clerk of the Union, placed 
the names of the recipients on the register. He then 

328 rossa's recollections. 

gave me a " statistical report book," directing me to 
enter tlie 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 tluit 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 Connnissioners' circulars of the 
year 1848 or thereabouts. Receiving those, U) act by 
them MS part of my instructions, it is not to be won- 
dered 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 apparentl}' in the most wretched state of destitu- 
tion. In the house of one, I saw a dead child, who, I 
believe, died from want of the necessaries of life. Thaf^ 
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 de- 
ceased 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 pre- 
viously 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 commis- 
sioners had unlocked all the sections and clauses of the 
Poor Law act, and directed the guardians of the dif- 
ferent Unions to avail of them, and to put on them the 
most liberal construction for the lelief of the destitute 

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 circum- 
stances, 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 months. 

For the truth of that statement, you may refer to 
that committee. 

I would not seek such a situation ; but having been 
requested to discharge its duties, in a pressing emer- 
gency, I do not like to be set aside for having done so, 

330 rossa's recollections. 

To be candid with you, I believe I incurred the dis- 
pleasure of most of the landlord guardians on account 
of my having reported tlie child's death to the coroner 
of the district, and they immediately cried out tliat my 
appointment was political, and resolved to cancel it. 
I remain, gentlemen, your obedient servant, 

Jer. O'Donovan Rossa. 

I have made the reniark 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 3^ou 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 CoUymore, called 
O'DriscoU's country. It contained 6^ ploughlands — 
391 on the mainland and 25J in the islands. The 
names of their castles would also indicate the flourish- 
ing 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 decid- 
ing a dispute regarding landed property between Sir 
Fineen O'DriscoU and a relative of his named Fineen 
Catharach. Coppinger got an order out of Chancery 


against the heirs of O'Driscoll. Coppiiiger, 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 



The life of my early manhood is full of my acquaint- 
ance with, John O'Donovan, the great Irish scholar; 
and when now — forty years after that acquaintance — I 
am Avriting my ^M-ec(>llecti<)ns," it would not be right to 
pass the old times by, jind pass the old friends by, with- 
out saying a word about them. I will, therefore, de- 
vote 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 wns a child, and who, when grown into 
manhood, became active and prominent in the Fenian 
movement, and active and prominent as a war corie- 
spondent 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 Pennf/ 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 


JOH^• o'dokovan, ll. d. 833 

ill 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, wuuld 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 genera- 
tions before that, and from their having been deprived 
of those lands because they would not change their re- 
ligion 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 tiie name "Rossa," which the peo- 
ple 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 him : 

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 un- 
Avorthy members of the Church of Rome ever ^iiice ! 
(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 Mc- 
Carthy hanged the said Dorothy Ford at Castle Don- 
ovan, 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 uot spent). God's curse extends to the fifth 
generation, but I believe man's goes further. But in 
addition to these ancient maledictions, T, and my un* 
fortunate sept of Ida in Ossory labor under two othei* 
denunciations which hang over us like two incubi ! 


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 trouble- 
some 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 Kilbrit- 
ton. This castle was the chief residence of McCarthy- 
Reagh, by whom it was erected. The O'Donovans had 
notiiiiig to do with this castle, notwithstanding the 
authority of the ignorant historian Dr. Smith! 

The Professor Donovan, who wrote the article on 
coffee in 1834, is my friend Michael Donovan, of No. 

II 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 

336 rossa's KEC^OLLi'XrnoNs. 

subjects. He wrote several works which were pub- 
lished in Lardner's Cyclopedia, on galvanism, chemis- 
try, domestic economy, etc. He has made a discovery 
in chemical science which he has as yet failed to estab- 
lish ; that is, the process of turning water into gas. 
He was given u[) 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 preju- 
diced 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 wny re- 
lated. 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 Ife (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 investi- 
gation ; but no false assertion should be ventnied 
upon. Truth will ultimately triumph over falsehood, 
and those who have attempted to sustain false asser- 
tions, are contemptible in the estimation of the honor- 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 337 

able, 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. 
Jeremiah O'Donovan-Rossa, 

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 be- 
coming 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-Ca- 
hill, MacEiiesles 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 

3. Conor, married to Rose Kavanagh. 

4. William, married to Mary Oberlin, a Puritan, 
died 1749. 

5. Edmond, married to Mary Archdeacon, died 

6. Edmond, married to Ellen Oberlin, died 1817. 

7. John O'D. L.L. D., married to Mary Anne 
B rough ton 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 liis 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 templed to 
print (if he prints at all), because one of them— Captain 
Donell Boy MacEnesles O'Donovan was very distin- 
guished, and was restored to property under the Act of 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 339 

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 liad the honor of re- 
ceiving 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 men- 
tioned in various inquisitions, etc. The townland of 


Gortnascreeiia, containing three plough-lands (in the 
parish of Drimoleague), belonged in the 3^ear 1607 to 
the Sliocht Randal O'Donovan. In the same year the 
sept of MacEnesles possessed the townlands of Barna- 
huUa, (now Butler's gift), and also the lands of Meeny 
and Derryclough Lower, in the parish of Drinagh. 

On the 20th of August, 16^2, Dermot MacTeige 
MacEnesles O'Donovan was possessed of the lands of 
Lisnabreeny, west of the parish of Glenawilling, or 
Kihneen, 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 knowledge. 

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 sincerely, 

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 Lisna- 
breeny 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 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 341 

opinion of lier veracity, by telling me that her grand- 
father Teige a Russa was a grandson of Teige Mac- 
Aneeis, who lived in Glean-a-Mhuilin ; and, as I thought 
tliere was iio MacAneeis, but the first named, I be- 
lieved 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 Crom wells; and the 
Donovan Islands, having come by riches some way, were 
glad to catch any of the family." 

If you had any trutliful 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 fam- 
ilies), were then living at Milleenroe and Carrigagri- 
anane. 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, 
aud 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 lielped me, down as far as Dermot, son 

342 rossa's kecollections. 

of tlie above Teige MacEnesles, I will give you the 
descent from liim, and if it agrees with the interven- 
ing time, there can be no reason to doubt its correct- 

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 Mac- 
Enesles, 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 Mac- 
Enesles, locally shortened to MacEneeis. I will pre- 
pare any note you like on this sept, and your descent 
therefrom for Mr. Alton's second edition of his thick 
book on King James XL'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 
'' F'elicitas 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 

JOHN o'doxovan, ll. d. 343 

O'Coniiell 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 fur fictions like 
that given by Windele. 

I met a young friend of yours in the college the other 
day, whf)se 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 

I don't think lie 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 8, 1856, John O'Doiiovan says: '* What 
puzzles me most is, why the epithet, or appellative of 

344 rossa's recollections. 

Rossa clings to your sept. The O'Donovans of Ross- 
more are mentioned in an inquisition taken at Cork on 
the 3d of April, 1639, wlien 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 
famil}' lived there; that the famil}^ 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 prop- 
erty, when they had no titles but what belonged to 
them as being Irish, and owners of the soil upon which 
they and tlieir fathers were born ; and consequent con- 
fiscation of their lands, for not paying the fines, and for 
not being able to show an English title to their prop- 
erty. That is how nearly all tlie 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 a[)pellative 
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 Lisna- 
breeny, and Glean-a-Mhuilin are neighboring town- 
lands in the parish of Rossmore or Kilmeen. 


This is the next letter: 

August 26th, 1857. 

Dear Sir — When I arrived here yesterday, tlie 
servant girl told me that a young Mr. O'Donovan Inid 
called early in the moining. 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 thonglit it 
might be Henry Donovan the matliematician, but I 
find it was not. After making several inquiries among 
my Donovan friends, 1 have come to the conclusion 
tliat 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, 
slie says, a countryman from Clare or Kerry. 

I waited within in the evening till 8 o'clock yester- 

I am going to the Arran Islands in the Bay of Gal- 
way on the 3d of September, with the British Associ- 
ation, 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 altogether. 

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 

346 eossa's recollections. 

you miglit call ; but I must go out then, as a member of 
the British Association. 

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 can- 
non, and the giant powder, and the mitrelleuse artil- 

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 Gen- 
eral 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 

JOHN" o'donovax, i.l. d. 347 

O'Fogarty at Holy Cross Abbey, but ceased when the 
last of the race was hanged at Cloiimel for VVhiteboy- 
ism ! Another braon aillse continued to fall on the 
tomb of the White kniglits at Kilmallock, till the last 
of the direct descendants of these knights died without 

What tlie 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 like)}' to become ex- 
tinct in Ireland, or to be removed westward to the new 
world by the steady encroacliment 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 
liang over them like fatal swords. 

There were O'Donovans at Crookhaven, whose pedi- 
gree 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 lamharcorda, 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." 

348 rossa's recollections. 

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. 

Tlie 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 pro- 
tected 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 main- 
taining 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 Don- 
egal and Antrim. 

.JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 349 

The Skibbereen Eagle of February 19, 1898, reprint- 
ing 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 Refor- 
mation leaders. A certain William Lyons, who was 
an apostate from the beginning, was appointed Protes- 
tant Bishop of Ross in 1582. He met with a charac- 
teristic reception from the brave and zealous priests 
and people of Ross. All the phxte, ornaments, vest- 
ments and bells connected with the cathedral and mon- 
astery, 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^n 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 conse- 
crated 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 iiad to report to the Commissioners, in 
1615, that on his arrival he found no residence, "but 
Old}' 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 X300, 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 

350 hossa's kecollections. 

have a record that he was commissioned '* to find out 
ways and means to people Munster with English in- 

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 everj^ person or persons inhabitating within this 
realm shall diligently and faithfully resort to their 
Parish churcli. or chapel, or to some usual place where 
Common Prayer and other Service of God is used or min- 
istered, upon pain that every person so offending shall 
forfeit for every such offence twelve pence, to be levied 
by the church wardens of the parisli, by way of dis- 
tress on the goods, lands and tenements of such of- 

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 sura 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 im- 
prisonment 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 j^rayer, but 
forbear the same, contrary to the tenor of a statute 
made in the first year of Her Majesty's reign, for uni- 
formity of Common prayer, and being thereof lawfully 


convicted, shall forfeit to the Queen's majesty fot 
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 re- 
ceipt 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 sliall and may by process out of the 
Siiid exchequer, take, seize and enjoy all the goods, and 
two parts as well of all the lands, tenements and here- 
ditaments, 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 pay- 
able for each month, according to the statute in that 

362 bossa's recollections. 

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 tliat 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 Maj- 
esty, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the common- 
ers in this present parliament assembled: That every 
Popish I'ecusant, convicted, or hereafter to be convicted, 
which heretofore hath conformed him or herself, and 
who shall not re})air to church and receive the sacra- 
ment 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 re- 
ceiving, forty pounds a month, until he or she shall 
have received the said sacrament as is aforesaid. 

*' And if after he or she shall liave received the said 
sacrament as is aforesaid, and after that, shall eftsoons 
at any time offend in not receiving the said sacrament 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 853 

as is aforesaid by the space of one whole year ; that iii 
every siicli case the person so offe*nding shall for every 
such offence lose and forfeit three-score pounds of law- 
ful English money." 

Then, to meet the cases of estated and wealthy Cath- 
olics who would rather pay the fines and forfeits of 
twenty, forty and sixty pounds, than attend the Prot- 
estant 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, forasmucli 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 
uf 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 tliat 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 succes- 
sors, 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, in- 
terest and purposes hereafter in this act provided, in 


lieu and in full recompense of the twenty pounds 

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 Camp- 
bell 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, Edward, desires 
me to send to you his first attempt at painting the 
armorial bearings of tlie O'Donovans. He drew them 
very well in pencil, but he spoiled his drawing in lay- 
ing on the colors, at which he is not yet sufficiently 
expert. He has been about -d year at drawing under 
the tuition of Mr. Bradford of the Jesuits' Seminary, 
No. 6 Great Denmark street, but I liave determined 
upon w'lYMrawiiig 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 oc- 
cupy all his time. 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 355 

A young friend of mine, Willicun John O'Donovan 
of the Middle Temple, London, lias been making re- 
searclies 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 hini on the 
subject when I hear of his arriving in London. He is 
a very young man of some fortune, and a most enthusi- 
astic 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 whu 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 tuined his son out of doors for this imprudent 
marriage. Then the son went to California, w^here he 
went through a variety of adventures. At length tlie 
father died, and the hero of California has returned to 
his wife and child, and taken his father's place in New 

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 T send it, hoping that you will be able 


to tell me something about the Nagles mentioned by 
him. I remain, dear sir, yours ever sincerely, 

John O'Donovan. 

Dublin, 36 Upper Buckingham Street, 

October 25, 1858. 


(Mac Enesles, Rosa-Mhoir.) 
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 s})iiit. I gave the 
young gentleman of the Inner Temple, London, a let- 
ter 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 
gieat urbanity, hospitality and kindness. This young 
gentleman is of the Wexford Sept of the Hy-Figenti; 
is about twenty-six jesirs old, six feet two inches tall ; 
a Protestant, (but he is likely to be fished up by the 
Pop)e 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 Kil- 
larney. 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 fatlier, 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 

LL. D. 357 

lias already. He is the cousiii-germaii 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 Sebasto- 

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 
tlie name will become important again, though now 
sunk low enough as regards landed property. 

I forgot to ask you in my last letter what ha[)pened 
our Ameiican friend, your cousin Florence, who ex- 
pected to be appointed Consul at Cork. Has he writ- 
ten 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 T 
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 witliering force, or that its fulminatory influence 
was nearly spent after the fifth generation. Curses 
among the Jews exhausted themselves in the fifth gen- 
eration. The Irish belief is tliat the curse returns on 
the pronouncer if it was not deserved. Our ancestor 
really deserved the curse pronounced on him. 

Let me congratulate you on the subject of your 

358 kossa's recollections. 

many sons. I am particularly fortunate in that re- 
spect, 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." Ex- 
cuse 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 tiy 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 O'Donovans. 

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 Sei)t. 

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 street. 

It is reported here that a young Ireland war is be- 
ginning to be organized in Cork and Kerry, but I do 
not believe it. You need not make any allusion to 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 359 

this in your notes, because my young friend is an aris- 
tocrat, though he hates the Saxons more than I do. 
Yours in great liaste, 

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 ar- 
rested 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. 
Mr. O'Donovan Rossa, County Jail, Cork. 
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 July. 

I remain your, etc., 

E. O'Donovan. 

Tiiat is the Edmond O'Donovan who became so cele- 
brated 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; 

360 rossa's recollections. 

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 an- 
tiquary of Carbery was an Irish Senachy without any 
critical knowledge whatsoever. 

The tribe of the O'Donovans which he calls Mac- 
Aeneus or MacAongns, had never any existence under 
that appellation, but the O'Donovans of Glenawilling, 
are frequently mentioned in old Irish pedigrees, under 
tlie name of MacEuesles, and in the public records under 
that of MacEnesles-Mac-I-Crime. This MacEnesles 
family was tlie third (second by descent) most impor- 
tant sept of the O'Donovans of Carbery, and the de- 
scent of their ancestor Aneslis, or Stanislaus, is given 
thus by MacFirbis : 

1. Donovan, ancestor of the O'Donovans, slain, 977, 
by Brian Boru. 

2. Cathal, fought at Clontarf, 1014. 

3. Amhlaff or Auliffe, flourished 1041. 

4. Murrough. 5. Aneslis. 6. Raghnall or Reginald. 

.JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 361 

7. Mulroiiy. 8. Crom, slain, 1254, by O'Malioiiy in 
Glanachryme near Dunmanway. 

9. Cathal, a quo Clancahill, anciently of Castle 
Donovan in Drimoleague. 

Aneslis, a quo MacEnesles of Glenavvilling. 
Loughlin, a quo the Clan Loughlin of Cloghatrad- 

10. Donogh More, son of Aneslis. 

The pedigrees of the Clancahill of Castle-Donovan, 
and of the Clan Loughlin of Kilniaccabee and Reeno- 
griana are preserved, but that of the sept of Mac 
Enesles (now locally Mac Maclninish) has been entirely 
neglected. The last distinguished man of the sept 
was Captain Daniel Boy O'Donovan of Kilcolenian, 
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 loose 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 rec- 
ords, Slught Eneslis Maclcroyme. 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 con- 
tinued ; I will continue it here by showing you this 
letter : 

362 rossa's recollections. 

Dublin, March 1, 1860. 

My dear Friend — I have just received your note, 
and was ghul to see your liandwritiug. I should be 
glad to contribute in any way to illustrate the litera- 
ture 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 at- 
tend to, and I do not like to interrupt them. I have 
the eldest in Trinity College, and three others at the 
Jesuits' Grauimar School, where the}' are making con- 
siderable progress in classic and ir^cience. I have buried 
the youngest, Morgan Kavanaugh O'C. O'D., wlio 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 de- 
parture 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 insanity. 

I was glad to learn that Henry O'Donovan, Esq., of 
Lissaid, 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 tlie 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 tians- 
mitted, and therefore that the curse of the good Coarb 
of St. Barr}^ 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 : 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 363 

1. Castle-Donovan was forfeited in 1641, and given 
away, forever. 

2. My ancestor Edmond killed the son of O'Sulli- 
van Beare, and was killed himself in 1643, leaving his 
descendants landless. Right! 

3. The race of Colonel Daniel O'Donovan became 
extinct in 1829, in the person of General O'Donovan, 
wlio left the small remnant of his patrimonial inheri- 
tance to Powell, a Welshman. Cnrse ! 

4. The present O'Donovan is cluldless. His brother 
Henry has one dangliter, who, if she be the only heir, 
will leave the name landless. 

These four reasons, adding to them your imprison- 
ment in 1859, convinces me that the curse of the good 
Coarb still hangs over us all. But I hope we may es- 
cape 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 men- 
tioned to me that he had no son. Perhaps you might 

364 rossa's recollections.. 

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 appreliension and a lively imagina- 
tion, and I will therefore expect from your pen a curi- 
ous story from the dictation of James O'D. himself, on 
the vicissitudes of his family. I believe that his de- 
scent is pure, and that he is now the senior representa- 
tive 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 narra- 
tive that might do justice to the genius of Plutarch. 

Your friend Edniond, tlie 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 Flor- 
ence, 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 rheumatism. 
Yours, ever sincerely, 

John O'Donovan. 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 865 

As he asked me to see James O'Donovau, I saw l]im. 
He was a porter at the entrance gate of the Skibbereen 
Poorhuuse, at a salary of twelve pounds a year. 

Wiien lie 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 pub- 
lished abi ut who and what he was, they may think he 
had s(-me design upon ownership of the lands of the 
O'Donovan clan, which they held because their fathers 
aiid I heir 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 
ills situation — prejudice the landlord guardians against 
him, most of whom were the possessors of the plundered 
property of the people. 

I told that to John O'Donovan, telling him I did not 
liKe to [)ress 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 

366 rossa's recollections. 

grief to "a softer sadness." Your imprisonment must 
have weighed heavily upon her spirits. 

Mv nephewin-law seems to be a sensible man of the 
world. He seems to be a great Catholic. Of his poli- 
tics I know nothing, but calculate that they are ultra- 
montane ; 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 Mc- 

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 wit- 
nesses " ; but he heard from the Clan-Loughlin and 
other septs of the O'Donovans, that such was the 

This illegitimacy of the senior branch is, in my opin- 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 367 

ion, another result of the curse of the good Coarb of 
St. Barry. 

I have given in tlie Appendix to the Annals, all that 
I could hud about James' pedigree ; but wliat I want 
from him now is his story of how the property gradu- 
ally passed from him and liis 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, Kedagli, succeeded better than any of 
the rest, except the Protestants. 

How many acres did James farm when he was mar- 
ried ? 

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 actu- 
ally superstitious on this point. I believe that most 
members of the family are high-minded, and remark- 
ably honest, but I believe, also, that they are reckless, 
addicted to drink, and irritable to a degree that coun- 
terbalances all their amiable characteristics. I am 
anxious to preserve a memorial of James, as by all ac- 
counts, he has been a virtuous, honest and honorable 
man ; and only unfortunate, as being overwhelmed by 
adverse circumstances, or perhaps, as not having suffi- 
cient 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 

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 Dub- 
lin, 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-speak- 
ing 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 famil}^ 
and what the name is called by tlie Irish-speaking peo- 
ple. 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 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 369 

Irish annals, or Irisli genealogies. I have several rel- 
atives of tliis 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 de- 
scent? 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 

Fourth. — Did James ever hear of a sept of the 
O'Donovans in the County of Cork, who were not de- 
scended from Crom, or the Donovan who captured 
Mahon, King of Munster at Brnree ? It appears there 
was a sept of the O'Donovans of the same race as 
O'Driscoll of Colthuighe, before the race of the treach- 
erous Donovan of Bruree had settled in the O'DriscoU 
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 but- 
ter 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 ray nephewin-law in New 

370 rossa's recollections. 

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 Shemiis 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. 1 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 South- 
west with one of two of the boys, to show them gentes 
cunnabula nostrae. 

Meantime, believe me, yours ever, 


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 sub- 
ject. One party is for our Holy Father the Pope and 
])is temporal power, and another for ceding him his 
spiritual power only. They are all for Napoleon ; 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 371 

which, in my opinion, is not fair, and they hope tliat 
the Bourbons will never be restored. 

My eldest son John, got the prize for chemistry in 
the Museum of Industry liere, which was a great effort 
for him, being just turned off seventeen and having to 
contend with the practical youug chemists of Dublin. 

My second son, Edniond, is actually mad at his her- 
aldic 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 admoni- 
tion 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 collaterally. 

My third son, William, is the cleverest of all, and is 
likely to become a Jesuit or a Passionist. He is. en- 
tirely for the Pope and his temporal power; and in- 
clines to sneer at the Nation and Irkhman equally. 
We get both fhese 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 (excei)t, perhaps, some of the 
mnenionistic students) but he is wicked and selfish and 
will be very lucky if he is not yet killed fighting 
against the niggers. 

Ho[)ing 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, Edraond 

372 rossa's recollections. 

O'Donovan was taking an active part in Fenian poli- 
tics. In tliat enterprise he had traveled tlirough Ire- 
land, 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 — Twent}- times within the past 
fonr months, I have sat down with the intention of 
writing you a long letter ; but as often those circum- 
stances 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 virhom 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 aie 
as follows: Thomas Smith and Owen Murray, late of 
the North of England. Address, under cover, to John 
Kelly, Spuyten Duyvil, Westcliester County, N. Y. If 
you would kindly see after this I would be obliged. 

I dul}^ 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 Irish- 
man witli great interest, and having the misfortune to 
know something about the United States, through two 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 373 

visits made during your imprisonment, I can thoroughly 
appreciate and feel for your unenviable position of nine- 
teenth century knight-errant and Paladin in the cause 
of distressed virtue. 

Be assured that if ever I take up such a role — and 
you must pardon my saying so — I will display greater 
discrimination in tlie 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 for- 
eigners " 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, 
" ril never do it again, sir." 

I was a prisoner of war in Bavaria when T 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, 


p. S. Excuse rubbish ; the fact being that I am 
writing a book on metaphysics, and under the circum- 
stances, yon cannot expect common sense. E. O'D. 


P. A. Collins, of Boston, was active in Fenian poli- 
tics those days. So was Colonel Tom Kelly, one of the 
men rescued in Manchester. This is a letter written 
by Edward 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, 1 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 conven- 
tion, or any committee appointed by them to investi- 
gate 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. T take from Apple- 
ton's Encyclopedia this account of how he came by his 
death : 

" The battle ground had been selected by tlie Mahdi 
with his usual sagacity. It was a narrow rocky pas- 
sage between wooded hills, in which he had placed the 
guns and rifles captured in former engagements, in po- 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 376 

sitions 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 over- 
whelmed, and not a man escaped. The commander-in- 
chief, with Alla-ed-Din, Governor General of the Sou- 
dan, Abbas Bey, Colonel Farquahar, Major Von Seck- 
endorf. Massy, Warner and Evans, Captain Horlth 
and Anatyaga, Surgen-general Georges Bey, Surgeon 
Rosenberg, O'Donovan the well-known war correspond- 
ent, 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 Ed- 
mond 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 
lielp thinking on what their father says about his being 
almost superstitious on the head of tliat 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 

376 rossa's recollections. 

dozen years ago; I saw him buried in Calvary Ceme- 
tery. 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 con- 

The father, John O'Doiiovan, 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 McGeeon the death 
of John O'Donovan will end this chapter: 

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 songht. 

JOHN o'donovan, ll. d. 377 

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 tlie month of May I 
found myself on board tlie 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 

Gazing around from the deck of the ship, the scenery 
was grand — the liills 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 : 

Aud Clifton isn't it grand you look 
Watcbing 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 — sit- 
uate 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 eacli otlier, Fort Camden touching Fort Hamilton 
and Fort Carlisle touching Fort Wadswoith, 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 liarbor 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 tliat 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 tliere 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 [)hinted 
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'Maliony to the ainiory 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 mioht be the 
better able to fight the battles of Ireland against Eng- 
land. I saw this spirit in most of the speeches I heard 

380 rossa's recollections. 

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 in- 
troduction 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 for- 
get telling. I delivered it. After reading it, he talked 
with me in his ofBce 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 12,000 ; 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 liave 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 commer- 
cial 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 3'ou are to get $2,000 worth of 
goods at any time you desire to have them." 

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. 

382 rossa's recollections. 

The old gentleman must be gone to the otlier 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 earl}' 
years of the century. He was of the O'Kellys of Con- 
naught; 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 de- 
serted 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 Chambeis and 
Madison streets. I was told a man in the carriage 
wanted to see me. The man was William O'Shea of 
Bantiy, who had spent eight or nine months witli me 
ill Cork Jail, a few years before then. He asked me to 
"bit 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 be- 
low 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 ; lie 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 Cor- 
coran 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 
lie rejoined his regiment. In Ireland I familiarly called 
him " Billy 0\" 

With fearless Captain Billy O' 

I joined the Fenian band, 
And swore, one day to strike a ])low 

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 can. 

Do, Jer., give me credit for being so prompt and 
thoughtful, as it is but seldom I claim praise. Now, 
for the history of m}^ route to here. 

1 got in to Baltimore very penceably 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 studies. 

I got into Baltimore about seven o'clock the next 
morning after leaving you. 1 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. 
Captain William O'Shea, 42d N. Y. Volunteers, 
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 cliarge U. S. 
A. general hos[)ital, Division No.l , Annapolis, Md.,for 
admission and treatment therein. You will comply 
with all rules and regulations, governing inmates of the 
hospital, and the instructions given you. 

J. S. MTarlin. 
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. — 

A few nights after the burial of Mrs. Corcoran I was 
at an entertainment that was at Colonel Corcoran's 
liouse ;■ 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 Meaglier was in town 
the day before, and fixed upon a day that he and T 
would go out to his home in the Orange Mountains of 
New York to have a talk nbont liow affairs were in Ire- 
land. We fixed upon a day ; Meagher was to meet us 
with a coach at the railroad station in tlie 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 tlie Orange Moun- 
tains, Meagher and Mrs. Meagher were at tlie railroad 
station before us. We got into the carriage ; the gen- 

386 rossa's recollections. 

eral took the whip and drove us to the mansion of his 
father in-law, Mr. Townsend. After partaking of some 
refreslinients we walked out into the orchard; birds of 
all kinds seemed to have their homes there and in the 
surroundiug 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 t'uue laughingly reminding each other of the 
many sti'ange 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 j^ears after, it appeared to me as if he 
was physically proportioned somewhat like Thomas 
Francis Meagher. 

At the dinner table that evening Mengher and 
O'Mahony got talking of the draft riots that were in 
New York the week before. I said T 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 

" 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 Jolin 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 Cap- 
tain Patrick J. Condon, of the Sixty-third Regiment; 
lie brought from the seat of war $600, the monthly con- 
tributions of the Army Circles of the Fenian Brother- 
licod. 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 tlie war in America was over. 
I meet ])im 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 Ids head is as white as the 
driven snow. 

Michael O'Brien, who was hanged in Manchester in 

388 rossa's recollections. 

1867, was in New York those days of July, 1863. He 
tuld 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 IsUmd 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 persujide him not to do 
so ; I told him he had pledged his life to a fight for Ire- 
land, 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 go- 
ing to enlist; that lie 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 arch- 
way 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 tlie corner and rolled 
out of sight. That is tlie hist sight I liad on earth of 
one of tlie truest Irish patriot comrades of my life — 
Michael O'Brien the Manchester martyr. 

On my way tlirough 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 
marshars 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 prom^jtly or voluntarily answered the call the Na- 
tion 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? 

Tliat's what made Parnell and parliamentary agita- 
tion 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 fighiing her 
battles in the London parliament. That's what par- 
alyzed the spirit of the Irish National cause and makes 

390 rossa's recollections. 

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 
liarbor 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 liere, 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. 



Jn 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. 
Criminins 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 
tljat it is not at all out of place for me to put it in my 

I wrote it the day after I met Mr. Crimmins; and 
tliis 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 slianachiechting 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 


392 rossa's recollections. 

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. iMcNevin 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 
riglit, b}^ 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 com- 
memoration 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 


I went to Tliomas Ciimiiiins' house for the special 
purpose of taking from him, an elegy in tlie Irisli 
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 begin- 
ning of tliis 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 tlioroughly, and want 
to help you to read Irish, I will make an English trans- 
lation of them, and place them side by side with the 

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 iuusint, 
Idir gall a's gael, air gacli taobh da lu-bid siad, 
An fearmninte, beasacb, leigheauta, bhi 'guin, 
Air maidin 'na slaiute ; air clar a's' t-oidhche. 

In dubhach an la, 's is casnihar, broiiach, 
Gur leag do lair Ihu, lamb leis an b-pona, 
Do b'e sin an tra, d'l:ig tu air feocbaint, 
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 ua leiubh, gau a n-athair a d-taobh leo, 
Ce, gur f hag le sguipeadli, go fairsing da shaotbar. 

'S au Tir do baistig tu, a's chaithis do sbaoghal ann, 
Nior f baigis leaubb bocbt dealbli, a beicig, 
Gur fuar do chistin, a's do tbeine bbi engtba, 
A's d'reir mar mbeasas, 'ta an tirmisg deunta! 

A Dbouail Mac Tomais ! in' ocbone ! ta claoidbte, 

A mbic au atbair, na'r bb'aingis le h-insiut ; 

Gur a m-barr do tbeangan, do bbidb dainid do chroidhe-si, 

Acbt nior ruigis leat fearg, air do leabaig, a's' t-oidliche. 

Ni dbearfad dada air a cbairid, na gbaolta, 
Acbt labbarfad feasda, air a bpearsan an aonar : — 
Do bbi fiall, fairsing, hi-marga, agus aonaig, 
A's na'r dbuu a dboras, le dotboill roim aoine. 

A u-diagb do lamb, ba' bbreagb liom li-ne, 
Agus ui do blearr, ua air clar a rinnce; 
A d-taobb au bbearla, — ni dbearfad nidh leis, 
Mar ba' Brebon ard tbu, air Ian da sgrioba. 

Da mba' duiue mise, do sgrio'cb uo leigbfeacb, 

Do raigbiu cbum seanacbas fada air a gbaolta, 

Do scrutain gasra d'fbearaibb gan aon locbt, 

A's a gnio'rtba geala, na'r bb-aingis do leigbeadh duit. 

Anois, o labbaras, — ainm dibb, 'nneosad, 
Gui'guidhe, " Amen ! " — agns paidir, uo dho leis : 
Siol de sliocbt Bbarra — an fear Cartbanacb, Doual ; 
Go d-teig a u-anaui go Caitbir na Gloire ! 


There's a mournful story to-day to tell 

Among friends and strangers, wbere'er tbey dwell ; 

Tbat man so learned, so gentle, brigbt ; 

In good healtb tbis morning, now dead to-nigbt. 


»Tis a day of inouruing; 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 liosts 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 ! 

896 rossa's recollections. 

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 govern- 
ment 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 manu- 
script papers that Father Tom Crinimins 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 stan)p 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 with- 
out leaving wife or children, in New York ( ity, a few 
years after the termination of that war, p ssessed of 
considerable property in New York county, and Cort- 


land county, Thomas Addis Emmet becoming his ex- 

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. Ciimmins 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 house. 

"It was more worrying and more wearisome to me to 
be; idle than to be at work, so I occasionally made my- 
self occupation in straightening up things about the 

" 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 kind ? " 

*VNo, 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 DrumcoUoher. She is buried 
in DrumcoUoher ; 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 boundar}^ 
line of two counties -between Dromina, Milfoid, and 
Tullilease in Cork, and DrumcoUoher in Limerick; 
they were large buyers of cattle, and instead of my doing 
any work on the farm, I used to attend tlie 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 even- 
ing, to the question asked i * What kind of a market 
had ye at the fair to-day?' the answer may be heard — 
' Lideed, the market was rather slack today ; there 
there were none of the Crimminses at the fair.' T 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 DrumcoUoher, who did busi- 
ness down in Vandewater street. 

400 kossa's recollections. 

"Ob, I knew him well, and knew his grandfather 
better. His grandfather, Big Daniel O'Brien, was the 
last man I parted with when I w^as leaving Ireland. 
He put his arms around me and embraced me — lament- 
ing 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 com- 
mittee 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 laud of his decease. 

" Thomas Addis is not buried under that monument 
at alU" 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 re- 
solved 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 time. 

'* 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 hus- 
band's name was Thomas. He was buried where that 
monument is. The twice-widowed woman's name was 
Riker. Siie was a sister to Recorder Riker. The 
Rikers belong to Newtown, Long Island, and Iiave 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 Irish 
wan— 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, repre- 
sentative 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 


402 rossa's recollections. 

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, tell- 
ing 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 com- 
mon 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 & Com- 

The foregoing twenty-seven chapters make a com- 
plete book. Anything written in them is not de- 
pendent for explanation or understanding, upon any- 
thing 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. 


Mariner's Harbor, 

New York. 



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5 \ iiJUi 



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