In 1848 William Smith O’Brien, along with Thomas Francis Meagher, Terence Bellew McManus, and Patrick O’Donoghue, leaders among the Young Irelanders, were “sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, and [their] remains placed at the disposal of her majesty the Queen, to be dealt with according to her royal pleasure…The men’s verdicts were commuted to the more usual ‘transportation for life’ to Van Dieman’s Island/Tasmania, Australia, from which, with the help of others, Meagher escaped to America in 1852…” (“From the Old Sod to the Naugatuck Valley,” pp. 63, 64). I recommend Blanche M. Touhill’s book, “William Smith O’Brien and His Irish Revolutionary Companions in Penal Exile,” and John Martin’s “Jail Journal (or Five Years in British Prisons,” along with this blog post.
A Silver Voice from Ireland has written here, beautifully and personally, about her visit to William Smith O’Brien’s former home in County Limerick and recounted his role in Irish history as a dedicated supporter of those discriminated against by the British monarchy. She included a great image of Meagher and O’Brien with their jailor in Tasmania.
Also see the “Release of Mrs. Meagher, Ballingarry,” in which an episode more than fifty years later was reported, as one Mrs. Meagher was “released from Waterford Jail, after spending a term of three weeks for the great crime of being found walking or standing on the lands from which she and her husband were unjustly evicted by their landlord, Michael Morris, JP., coal merchant, Fiddown…” (http://ballingarry.net/people/mrsmeagher.html)
The anniversary of the birth of William Smith O’Brien, Young Irelander, is an appropriate time to record his strong association with the area in which I live in County Limerick, Ireland.
William O’Brien was born on 17 October 18o3, second son to Sir Edward O’Brien, Baron Inchiquin of Dromoland Castle, Member of Parliament for Ennis, County Clare and Charlotte Smith, daughter of the wealthy William Smith, an attorney,of Newcastle West, County Limerick. The O’Briens had accumulated large debts and the marriage to a wealthy Smith was a fortuitous one. Cahermoyle House, in Ardagh, Co Limerick was a property acquired by William Smith. William O’Brien (as he then was) inherited Cahermoyle House and lands of about 5,000 acres from his grandfather William Smith, and in honour of his grandfather, he adopted his name and from now on became known as William Smith O’Brien.
William Smith O’Brien followed in his father’s footsteps…
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Tom Maher said:
Thanks for sharing. Although I am a Thomas Francis Maher (formally no doubt Meagher), much to my dismay I am not related to General Thomas Francis Meagher.
Hello Tom, If we get far enough back it would seem that the whole clan was essentially related, but that’s an impossibility now once the original families became so widely dispersed and so many generations have been eclipsed. Lots of Thomases and Francises and Thomas Francises – even in my own early group. They sure liked to repeat a couple of handfuls of names, both male and female, didn’t they! I’ll bet some of the Thomas Francis givens were a tip of the hat to himself.
Constance Ann Mills Myers said:
Janet, I descend from Margaret Maher, b. abt. 1852 Limerick, d. Maysville, Ky, 1918 as wife of George Rice (first husband John Hughes). Parents John and Mary (Shea) according to death certs. but no proofs found in Ireland. The Mahers came over in the famine years and many settled in Maysville but I have not made any connections. Any advice would be most welcome. Thank you for your newsletter. It keeps me hopeful. Connie Myers, Milford NJ and Kennebunk, Me (summers)
Connie, I hope that you will find my recent “Researching Irish Family History in Connecticut” to be helpful to you. Although the emphasis there is on Connecticut, you would be able to find comparable resources in Kentucky, and the general Irish-related links would be applicable too. My advice is to scour Maysville as far as you can, focusing upon your known people. It is very difficult to find the correct place in Ireland, but clues regarding their intimate community may shed light there. Wishing you well, Janet (Ah, summers in Kennebunk, ME – lucky you!)