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Captain Michael O’Brien (1837 - 1867)

Michael O’Brien, one of eight children, was born at Ballymacoda, County Cork where his father had rented a large farm but in 1856 the family was evicted. He was described physically as being “a tall squared-shouldered man whose bearing bespoke the American soldier.” In his youth he was apprenticed to a draper in Youghal and later worked as an assistant in one of the large stores in Cork City. O’Brien would eventually emigrate to the United States. O’Donovan Rossa wrote in his book 'Irish Rebels in English Prisons' he had met O’Brien in 1859 and had also known him during his time in America and had found him to be “one of the truest and one of the noblest; as devoted as a lover and as courageous as a lion.” --- continue

Gustavus Conyngham (1744 - 1819)

Gustavus Conyngham was born circa 1744 in the Rosaguill Peninsula in Co Donegal, Ireland. The Conyngham's were products of the Protestant Ascendency whose linage can be traced back to Alexander Cunningham, the fourth Earl of Glencairn in the Peerage of Scotland in 1488. The first known member of the Conyngham family to appear in Ireland was the Rev. Alexander Conyngham in 1611. He was first Protestant minister of Iver and Kellymard in Co. Donegal.

As a child of a privileged family, Gustavus was either home schooled by a private tutor or at an established Church of England school. There is no information available to indicate that he attended university. His passion was for the sea and the open world that lay beyond the mouth of Lough Swilly, much more so than for the confines of a university setting.

Gustavus immigrated to Philadelphia in the American colonies in 1763. At that time Philadelphia was one of the preferred destinations for many of the early colonists because of its adherence to Quaker principles and its liberal attitude towards business. Philadelphia had another asset, particularly conducive to the shipping and trading business, its east coast location and sheltered harbor.  For these reasons many of the wealthy and well connected colonists choose Philadelphia as an ideal location to setup branches of family owned business so as to take advantage of the rapidly expanding trade between the Colonies the Caribbean and Europe.


Tadhg Brosnan (1981 - 1971)

Tadhg Brosnan was born in 1891 into a family of blacksmiths in the West Kerry village of Castlegregory. At that time, Ireland seemed comfortable with the Empire, its defiance apparently quenched with the defeat the Fenian Rising. But to Tadhg Brosnan Ireland unfree could not be at peace. The Irish Volunteers were founded in Castlegregory under his leadership 1913 and would prepare for another fight for freedom which would come less than three years later. But Easter Week 1916 ended in another bloody failure. The Empire had put Ireland back on its knees or so it would seem. But no so in Castlegregory. On the Sunday after the surrender in Dublin, despite warnings from the Crown Forces, Tadhg Brosnan marched his company of armed Volunteers up through the village after Mass in open defiance of Britain’s might. The next day he was arrested as were his loyal followers. Brought to Richmond Barracks in Dublin, he was tried before a military court. He refused to recognise that court, becoming the first officer of all the captured Volunteers of 1916 to deny the right of any English man to pass judgement on an Irishman fighting to free his country. His sentence was twenty years hard labour. -- continue

Dr. Gertrude B . Kelly (1862-1934)

Gertrude B. Kelly was born in 1862, one of twelve children, to Jeremiah and Kate (Forrest) Kelly of Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Waterford, Ireland.  Both of Gertrude's parents were teachers, who according to some accounts may have had been associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood. For what ever reason, be it political or economic, the family immigrated to the United States in 1873. They took up residence in Hoboken, New Jersey where Jeremiah secured a teaching position in the public school system and, presumidely, where Gertrude and her siblings attended school.

There is scant information available regarding how many of Gertrude's siblings survived their childhood; how many were born in Ireland or if any were born in the United States -- continue



They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! - they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.

Padraic Pearse oration given at 

Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa's funeral on Aug. 1, 1915

 On Abhorring the Sword

Delivered by Thomas Francis Meagher  at Conciliation Hall in Dublin on July 28, 1846

A GOOD government may, indeed, redress the grievances of an injured people; but a strong people can alone build up a great nation. To be strong, a people must be self-reliant, self-ruled, self-sustained. The dependence of one people upon another, even for the benefits of legislation, is the deepest source of national weakness.

By an unnatural law it exempts a people from their just duties,—their just responsibilities. When you exempt a people from these duties, from these responsibilities, you generate in them a distrust in their own powers. Thus you enervate, if you do not utterly destroy, that spirit which a sense of these responsibilities is sure to inspire, and which the fulfillment of these duties never fails to invigorate. Where this spirit does not actuate, the country may be tranquil—it will not be prosperous. It may exist—it will not thrive. It may hold together—it will not advance. Peace it may enjoy—for peace and serfdom are compatible. But, my lord, it will neither accumulate wealth, nor win a character. It will neither benefit mankind by the enterprise of its merchants, nor instruct mankind by the examples of its statesmen. I make these observations, for it is the custom of some moderate politicians to say, that when the Whigs have accomplished the “pacification” of the country, there will be little or no necessity for Repeal.


Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa Monument

St. Stephens Green Dublin


O'Rossa was born near Rosscarbery in , Co. Cork in 1831.
He founded the Phoenix National and Literary Society, the aim of which was 'the liberation of Ireland by force of arms'. Two years later the organization merged with the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB),
In December 1858, O'Rossa was arrested and jailed without trial until July 1859. In 1865, he was charged with plotting a Fenian Rising put on trial for high treason and sentenced to penal servitude for life.
From his exiled home in New York Rossa organised the first ever bombings by Irish republicans of English cities in what was called the 'dynamite campaign'.



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The Neptune

The Neptune was one of the notorious convict ship of  the Second Fleet that sailed to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour).  Built in the River Thames in 1779, at 809 tons she was the largest ship of the fleet. The other ships were the Surprize and Scarborough.

 The fleets first voyage to Port Jackson was on January 19, 1790. The treatment of convicts aboard the Neptune was unquestionably the most horrific in the history of transportation to Australia. Convicts suspected of petty theft were flogged to death; most were kept chained below decks for the duration of the voyage; scurvy and other diseases were endemic; and the food rations were pitiful. During the voyage 31% of the "convicts" died as the result of ill treatment.

John Mitchel who was convicted and sentenced to transportation for fourteen years under the Treason Felony Act of 1848 by the British usurper in Ireland was sent from Dublin on board HMS  Scourge to Spike Island in Cork harbor where he was incarcerated for three days. From there he was transported to Van Dieman's Land, (now Tasmania).

After spells in the hulks (skeleton ships) in Bermuda he was placed aboard the Neptune bound for Cape of Good Hope in the southern tip of Africa. The colonists refused to allow the Neptune to berth there and after five months at anchor in Simon's Bay she sailed to Van Diemen's Land docking at Hobart Town in April 1850.

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