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Thomas Devin Reilly  (1824 - 1854)

The honor roll of Irish patriots who over the centuries have struggled, fought, suffered and died for the freedom and independence of Ireland and the dignity of its citizens is long and legendary.   The near forgotten final resting place of one name on that honored roll, is a wooded hillside in the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in the Brentwood section of northeast Washington D.C.

 Resting there along with his wife and infant daughter, under a unique and weather beaten Irish Celtic Cross monument is Thomas Devin Reilly, a prominent leader, writer and spokesman of the Young Ireland movement of the mid 1840’s.  Reilly fled Ireland for America in late 1848, at the height of the famine, while on bail following his arrest by the British.  He died suddenly five years later at age 30 of a stroke on March 5, 1854 while working for the administration of U.S. President Franklin Pierce.

 The name “Young Irelanders” was given to a group of young Irish intellectuals and writers, who broke away from the repeal movement of Daniel O’Connell to advocate more radical and militant action to free Ireland from what they viewed as the yoke of British oppression.  All across Europe in the latter half of the 1840’s, the winds of nationalism and class struggle were leading to widespread social unrest and Ireland was no exception.--  continue

Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington (1877-1946)

Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington was born Johanna Sheehy on  May 27, 1877 in Kanturk, Co. Cork, the first of six surviving children born to David Sheehy and Elizabeth (nee McCoy). The Sheehy's owned and operated a successful milling business.

Hanna's father was a staunch Irish Republican who was active in both the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and the Irish Land League, militant organizations opposed to oppressive British rule in Ireland. As a consequence of his activism and outspokenness he was imprisoned on a number of occasions for incitement and sedition. After the abortive IRB Rising in the late 1860' he fled to the United States to avoid arrest and imprisonment. When things quieted down in the early 1870's. he returned to Ireland. After the "New Departure"(1) of 1879 he became an Irish Parliamentary Party Member of Parliament, first representing south Galway and  after that Meath.




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

History of  the 1848 Rising In Ireland

Preface to Michael Doheny --The Felon's Track

The Irish Confederation still awaits its historian. Three of its leaders have left narratives of its brief and momentous career, but, of the three, Doheny alone participated in the Insurrection that dug the political grave of Young Ireland. In “The Felon’s Track,” written hot on his escape from the stricken land, he tells the story vividly and passionately. It has morals deducible for all manner of Irishmen, and one for those English statesmen who comfort themselves with the illusion that Irish Nationalism, like Jacobitism, is a platonic sentiment. The man who, roused from his bed at midnight by tapping fingers on his window and a voice whispering that insurrection was afoot, rose and rode away in the darkness to join himself to its desperate fortunes was no young man ardent for adventure. Michael Doheny, when he left his home and his career to engage in the fatal enterprise, was a sober middle-aged barrister, a man of weight and fortune into which he had built himself by the hard toil of twenty years. His social anchorages were deep-cast—and no mere sentiment provokes such a man to throw aside the hard-won harvest of his life and risk the rebel’s or the felon’s fate. --- continue

 The 'Gazelle'

The 'Gazelle' was a whaling ship built in New Bedford Massachusetts in the early 1800's that plied the Pacific Ocean in search of sperm whales. Manned by a captain and crew supportive of the Irish in their quest for freedom from Britain, the Gazelle played a historic role in the life of John Boyle O'Reilly

After two years in English prisons John Boyle O'Reilly was transported with sixty-one other Fenians in the Hougoumont, arriving in Western Australia on 10 January 1868.

In his first weeks at the Convict Establishment in Fremantle he worked with the chaplain, Father Lynch, in the prison library. O'Reilly was transferred to a road party at Bunbury but was soon given clerical duties and entrusted to deliver the weekly report to the local convict depot.

Befriended by the priest, Patrick McCabe, and an Irish settler named James Maguire who was sympathetic to the Fenian cause, O'Reilly, with their assistance, planned his escape. Foiled in his first attempt, he hid on Maguire's farm until he boarded the American whaler Gazelle on February 18, 1869. After narrowly escaping capture at Roderiquez Island he transferred to the American Sapphire at St Helena and joined the Bombay as a deck-hand at Liverpool. He arrived in Philadelphia on  November 23, 1869.

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