Mitchel on Ballingarry

Some time ago we offered a synopsis of John Mitchel’s career and some quotes from his writings. Mitchel was arrested and transported before some fellow patriots and friends pursued the ill-fated rising at Ballingarry in 1848, when the whole nation was on its knees in the worst year of the Great Famine. In his Jail Journal he makes allusion to these events.

‘A poor extemporised abortion of a rising in Tipperary, headed by (William) Smith-O’Brien … 

There appears to have been no money or provisions to keep a band of people together for two days. And O’Brien, Meagher, Pat O’Donoghue of Dublin and Terence McManus of Liverpool are all now committed for trial to Clonmel gaol for being parties to the wretched business.

I cannot well judge of this affair herebut … O’Brien has been driven into doing the very thing he ought not to have done. An insurrection indeed has been too long deferred: yet in the present condition of the island no rising must begin in the country. Dublin streets are for that. 

O’Gorman, Reilly, Doheney have fled: and all prominent members of the Confederation in country towns are arrested on suspicion. 

Mitchel well knew his people. 

Of course it was his own involuntary absence that dealt the greatest blow to any hope of mass resistence in the fateful year of 1848 – the year of Revolutions all over Europe.

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