Shortly we will feature a review of Francis Gallagher’s short biography of Thomas Russell. First a note on how Newry featured in his life.
Originally from Cork (son of a Church of Ireland decorated British army officer and a Catholic mother from Tipperary) Russell, who served with distinction himself in the Army before taking up a career as a librarian, was a phenomenon in many ways.
Most unusual about him were the radical views he held, inspired by the French revolutionaries of the time and his sensitivity to the plight of the poor and of
In the home of one such
But Russell felt a pure love for Eliza that endured right up to his early and untimely death. He placed her apart from other women. Her angelic qualities and sweet countenance made her hard to forget. The loss of her love haunted him. Visiting Newry with Jeremy Hope to drum up support for Robert Emmett’s Dublin Insurrection of 1803, his friend enquired why Thomas was suddenly very quiet: because we approach the home of Eliza, he was told. These feelings were with Russell at all times of trial in his life. For example, when, later in the same year he moved on to organise Loughinisland, her image again haunted him: there was a kindness and intimacy about her that was not easily forgotten: he never recovered from the withdrawal of her sweet and shy love.
‘Recollections of her sweet and pure beauty no doubt comforted him’, writes Francis Gallagher in his biography. Russell could not bear to leave this life without being with her again. Yet he did.
It is perhaps ironical that Russell was opposed to the marriage of his niece to his friend, fellow revolutionary and lieutenant William Henry Hamilton on the grounds that a stable marriage and the life of a revolutionary didn’t fit well together. There is perhaps further irony in the fact that the marriage survived, as did
… Francis Gallagher on Thomas Russell …