Michael Doheny was born at Brookhill in Co. Tipperary in May of 1805 to Michael Doheny and Ellen Kelly. He was the third son in a family of eight children; five boys and three girls. Both of his parents died when he was still a boy.
Michael was a studious child, receiving his earliest education from wandering scholars who stayed in local farms.
After his eldest brother died he inherited the family farm. Having little or no interest in farming, he sold the farm shortly afterwards and moved to Fethard and then on to Thurles where he continued his studies. By the time he was 22 he had mastered Latin, Greek and Irish.
After finishing his studies he took up teaching as a profession. He was also an accomplished writer and poet and published in 'The Nation' a national newspaper. In the 1830's he was active in the politics
of the tithe war. During the 1830's he took time off to study law at Gray's Inn in London and King's Inns, in Dublin where he qualified as a barrister.
In the 1840's he was active in the Catholic Emancipation movement and was one of Daniel O'Connell's lieutenants. In the mid 1840's after the Repeal of the Union campaign failed he parted company with O'Connell due to differences on how to proceed from there, believing that force was the only alternative. He joined the Young Ireland movement and, consequently, took part in the 1848 rising as one of its leaders.
Because of his major role in the rising, Doheny fled to New York, where
he was admitted to the New York Bar and began to practice as an attorney. He also resumed his work for Irish freedom, chiefly as co-founder of the Fenian Brotherhood. In 1855 he organized a meeting in his New York law offices with John O’Mahony, James Roche, Thomas J. Kelly, Oliver Byrne, Patrick O’Rourke, and Captain Michael Corcoran all of whom were committed to Irish freedom. Out of this meeting emerged the Fenian Brotherhood, so named by John O’Mahony.
In 1859, when John O’Leary visited the U. S. he named Doheny, John O’Mahony and Capt. Michael Corcoran as the key players in the Fenian Brotherhood.
Doheny is now best known for his key role in forming the now-famous 69th New York Militia unit -- a stepping stone to the formation of Meagher's Irish Brigade and soon after Corcoran's Irish Legion, for a total of eight regiments, each of them attracting large numbers of Fenian Brotherhood members.
Within months of returning from the state funeral in Ireland for Terence Bellew McManus, a leader of the 1848 uprising, Doheny became ill and died suddenly at his New York home in April, 1862
Doheny's book, The Felon's Track, is a history of the 1843-1848 period, including his relations with Meagher, Mitchel, Lalor and most of the leaders of the abortive rising of '48. He also wrote a short history of the American revolutionary war.
Tomás Ó Coısdealha
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