Young Ireland

Young Ireland (Irish: "Éire Óg") was a political, cultural and social movement, which was to revolutionise the way that Irish nationalism was perceived as a political force in Irish society. From its beginnings in the late 1830s, its influence was to extend over following generations of Irish Nationalists, and to impact on much of future Anglo-Irish relations.


The name Young Ireland was originally used in a disparaging way to describe the group of Repeal Association members associated with "The Nation" newspaper. [Young Ireland, Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1880, Pg.291] The Repeal Association was at the time, campaigning for the repeal of the Act of Union 1800 between the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. [Young Ireland, T. F. O'Sullivan, The Kerryman Ltd. 1945, Pg 1-4] The term was first coined by the "English" press, [Young Ireland, Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1880, Pg.291] and later used by Daniel O'Connell in a vindictive attack at Conciliation Hall, home of the Repeal Association, for which he later apologized. [O'Connell Davis and the Collages Bill, Dennis Gwynn, Cork University Press 1948, Pg 68] Young Ireland traced its origins to the new College Historical Society, founded on 29 March 1839, at a meeting at Francis Kearney’s chambers, 27 College.Charles Gavan Duffy, Thomas Davis, The Memoirs of an Irish Patriot, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd pg. 14 ] Among the members of this new society were John Blake Dillon, Thomas MacNeven, William Eliot Hudson and Thomas Davis, who was elected President in 1840.Dennis Gwynn, Young Ireland and 1848, Cork University Press, 1949, pg 5] Though Davis, while still at Trinity had addressed the Dublin Historical Society which met at the Dorset Institute in Upper Sackville Street from 1836 to 1838. Davis became president and gave two lectures at it, which survived to this day and are available from the National Library of Ireland and show clearly that Davis had become a convinced Irish nationalist at this period in his life. [Charles Gavan Duffy, Thomas Davis, The Memoirs of an Irish Patriot, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd pg. 13]

Repeal Association

On 15 April 1840, Daniel O’Connell held the first meeting of his new Repeal Association, in the Corn Exchange, Dublin. Its birth was received with sneers, and O’Connell’s sincerity was questioned.Michael Doheny, The Felon’s Track, M.H Gill & Son, LTD, 1951, pg 14 ] In the General Election in 1832, O’Connell had made the same appeal, and though half the representatives chosen for Ireland were pledged Repealers, O’Connell dropped the demand, and several of them accepted appointments under the system they had pledged to overthrow. [Charles Gavan Duffy, Thomas Davis, The Memoirs of an Irish Patriot, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd pg. 2-3 ] Since that time, O’Connell had become a close ally of the Whigs, and as they were predicted to fall from power in 1840, renewing the agitation for Repeal, was suspected as a devise to embarrass the new administration. [Charles Gavan Duffy, Thomas Davis, The Memoirs of an Irish Patriot, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd pg. 3-4 ] As a consequence of this, not one man of status, outside of the members of the defunct Association joined the ranks of this new one. With the new Associations mounting debts, the contributions from its members not sufficient to pay half its ordinary expenses, both Thomas Davis and John Blake Dillon, joined its ranks in April 1841, having in the process, to overcome their dislike to the extravagant and abusive tone of O’Connell’s agitation. O’Connell welcomed them both with eagerness, and at once made them members of the General Committee, which controlled the organisation of the Association. The two men then began there work in earnest; Davis first became Chairman of a sub-committee in charge of the registers of the Association, which contained the names of all the Members. This allowed him the opportunity to enter into communication with all the leading politicians of the Party, and whenever he came across any with depth or ability; he at once developed into friendly associations.Michael Doheny, The Felon’s Track, M.H Gill & Son, LTD, 1951, pg 17 ] In the autumn of 1841, Dillon and Davis took over the roles of Editor and sub-Editor of the "Morning Register", a Dublin daily paper, belonging to Alderman Staunton, which had been the organ of the Catholic Association,Charles Gavan Duffy, Thomas Davis, The Memoirs of an Irish Patriot, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd pg. 45 ] and “was generally regarded among the mercenaries” of the Dublin Castle according to Michael Doheny who was to become one of Young Irelands leading figures. The positions having become vacant, with the emigration of its editor Mr Hugh Lynar to the Cape of Good Hope, and the Sub-Editor Charles Gavan Duffy having gone to conduct a journal in Belfast. As editors they were to plunge its readers into “ecstasies of astonishment,” according to Duffy, with articles on such things as Protestant nationality, historical parallels from classic and mediaeval history, to essays on the agencies and conditions of guerrilla warfare. Michael Doheny suggests in his Felon’s Track that “all Dublin was startled by the originality, vigour and brilliancy of its articles”. It was also at this time that they first came into contact with Charles Gavan Duffy. On Duffy’s next visit to Dublin some six months later, he discovered that Davis and Dillon had abandoned their experiment with the "Register",Charles Gavan Duffy, Thomas Davis, The Memoirs of an Irish Patriot, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd pg. 47] and this had left Davis with no hope to reach a wider public, even with his contributions to the "Dublin Monthly Magazine".

The Nation

After a long conversation while on a walk in the Phoenix Park, where the three of them discussed the prospects of the country, they decided on a project to establish a new national newspaper, which they were to title "The Nation". [Charles Gavan Duffy, Young Ireland, Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co, 1880, pg 47] Into this new venture, Dillon brought two young friends, the barrister John O'Hagan, and John Edward Pigot, a law student. Both of them were to be parodied in M. W. Savage’s "The Falcon Family or Young Ireland". Davis brought some of his circle of young friends in the Historical Society, and Duffy who brought in the poet James Clarence Mangan, William O’Neill Daunt a county Cork Landowner, and T. M. Hughes, who had been editor of the "London Charivari" , which was later absorbed into "Punch". [Dennis Gwynn, Young Ireland and 1848, Cork University Press, 1949, pg 6] On 15 October 1842, the first number of "The Nation" was launched. “The appearance of "The Nation" and its immediate and phenomenal success was a reinforcement for which O’Connell had scarcely dared to hope”. [Dennis Gwynn, Young Ireland and 1848, Cork University Press, 1949, pg 9] So commenced "The Nation" newspaper; and for the next three years it was, next to O’Connell, the strongest power in Ireland on the national side.P.A. Sillard, Life of John Mitchel, James Duffy & Co. LTD, 1908, pg 7] O’Connell knew and that he was receiving for the present, a powerful support from these young men, but he knew also that they professed to be free from the “gratitude of the past” and therefore outside of his influence. Davis was an extremely skilful propagandist who deliberately chose to work behind the scenes, and was to exerte a singular influence. Davis had been working on these lines since before "The Nation" made its first appearance, and the success of the newspaper soon produced significant results. [Dennis Gwynn, Young Ireland and 1848, Cork University Press, 1949, pg 10] One of the most distinctive new developments was the organization of Repeal reading rooms all over the country which "The Nation" was soon addressing itself to, in particularly, and found this an especially effective method of spreading their propaganda. By the spring of 1843, when "The Nation" had been in existence for some six months, the Repeal agitation was becoming really formidable, and the Government was beginning to consider the old problem of how to suppress it. [Dennis Gwynn, Young Ireland and 1848, Cork University Press, 1949, pg 11]

The Secession

The Young Irelanders, when members of the association, never advocated the use of physical force to advance the cause of repeal and opposed any such policy,The Felon's Track, By Michael Doheny, M.H. Gill &Sons, LTD 1951, Pg 105] Though the opposite was the belief created by O’Connell when in the Repeal Association, he introduced what came to be known as the “Peace Resolutions”, [The Felon's Track, By Michael Doheny, M.H. Gill &Sons, LTD 1951, Pg 106] which was that physical force could never be justified under any circumstances, at any time and this was to be applied retrospectively. This would have had the effect that the Repeal Association rejected the American war of Independence, the rebellions of both 1798 and 1803, and also the efforts of the French in deposing their government and monarchy. The use of physical force only became an issue with the Young Irelanders, after they had left the association, and had formed the Irish Confederation”.O'Connell himself had not been indisposed to use the threat of force, [Young Ireland, Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1880, Pg.274] as was seen in his campaign for Catholic Emancipation, but never had the intention or the will. [Young Ireland, Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1880, Pg.374] This was demonstrated by the cancelled 'monster meeting' planned for Clontarf in 1843. The monster Meetings were long a design of Thomas Davis, John Blake Dillon and Michael DohenyThe Felon's Track, By Michael Doheny, M.H. Gill &Sons, LTD 1951, Pg 20] .The object of which was to train the people to military movements, since this object would obviously be unsafe to announce, it was to be effected by other means. Daniel O’Connell was fully aware of their intent at the time, though he later denied it and repudiated those involved. [The Felon's Track, By Michael Doheny, M.H. Gill &Sons, LTD 1951, Pg 22] This meeting was prohibited by the British government, backed up with the threat of military force. O'Connell took a political decision to not press ahead with the summoning of the planned meeting for Clontarf, as the government had plans ready to suppress it. [Young Ireland, Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1880, Pg.361] This diminished his credibility with the British - they were only prepared to concede when they believed that there was a serious risk of an uprising. [The Crusade of the Period, By John Mitchel, Lynch, Cole & Meehan 1873, pg 147] The Young Irelanders had always agreed with Daniel O'Connell and the Repeal Association in its demand for repeal, but split when it did come was, over O'Connell's attempts to form an alliance with the Whig Party in England, which would have led to the dropping of repeal, as had happened in 1835. While the pretence used by O’Connell’s supporters, was the adoption of the Peace Resolutions.

The Irish Confederation

Late in the autumn of 1846, some prominent men undertook the task of remonstrating with the Repeal Association. Among them were a, Mr. Keeley, Mr. Holywood, Mr. Crean and Mr. Halpin all prominent Dublin citizens . A few weeks later, a remonstrance at the course pursued by the Association was produced and was signed by fifteen hundred leading citizens of Dublin. Michael Doheny’s The Felon’s Track, M.H. Gill & Son, LTD, 1951 Edition pg 111-112] It was delivered to the Chairman of the Repeal Association on 2 October. This remonstrance was ordered by John O’Connell (Daniel O’Connell’s son), to be flung into the gutter. The Remonstrants and the public resented this humiliation, and determined to hold a meeting in the Rotunda, Dublin, where they proposed to defend themselves against this indignity. The meeting was held on 3 November. Mr. Thomas D'Arcy McGee, who had never been a Member of the Association attended, and his speech described by Michael Doheny to be “calm, forcible and conclusive on the points at issue; and the excitement it created was, in no small degree, enhanced by the fact that the speaker was a young man theretofore unknown”. was fully established. The foundations of which were to be freedom, tolerance and truth. There were no declarations or calls for rebellion, and no pledges of peace were given. The objectives were they outlined the independence of the Irish nation and no means to attain that end were abjured, save such as were inconsistent with honour, morality and reason.

1848 Uprising


Books By Young Irelanders (Irish Confederation)

Additional Reading

* [ The Politics of Irish Literature: from Thomas Davis to W.B. Yeats, Malcolm Brown] , Allen & Unwin, 1973.
*John Mitchel, A Cause Too Many, Aidan Hegarty, Camlane Press.
*Thomas Davis, The Thinker and Teacher, Arthur Griffith, M.H. Gill & Son 1922.
*Brigadier-General Thomas Francis Meagher His Political and Military Career, Capt. W. F. Lyons, Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited 1869
*Young Ireland and 1848, Dennis Gwynn, Cork University Press 1949.
*Daniel O'Connell The Irish Liberator, Dennis Gwynn, Hutchinson & Co, Ltd.
*O'Connell Davis and the Collages Bill, Dennis Gwynn, Cork University Press 1948.
*Smith O’Brien And The “Secession”, Dennis Gwynn, Cork University Press
*Meagher of The Sword, Edited By Arthur Griffith, M. H. Gill & Son, Ltd. 1916.
*Young Irelander Abroad The Diary of Charles Hart, Edited by Brendan O'Cathaoir, University Press.
*John Mitchel First Felon for Ireland, Edited By Brian O'Higgins, Brian O'Higgins 1947.
*Rossa's Recollections 1838 to 1898, Intro by Sean O'Luing, The Lyons Press 2004.
*Labour in Ireland, James Connolly, Fleet Street 1910.
*The Re-Conquest of Ireland, James Connolly, Fleet Street 1915.
*John Mitchel Noted Irish Lives, Louis J. Walsh, The Talbot Press Ltd 1934.
*Thomas Davis: Essays and Poems, Centenary Memoir, M. H Gill, M.H. Gill & Son, Ltd MCMXLV.
*Life of John Martin, P. A. Sillard, James Duffy & Co., Ltd 1901.
*Life of John Mitchel, P. A. Sillard, James Duffy and Co., Ltd 1908.
*John Mitchel, P. S. O'Hegarty, Maunsel & Company, Ltd 1917.
*The Fenians in Context Irish Politics & Society 1848-82, R. V. Comerford, Wolfhound Press 1998
*William Smith O'Brien and the Young Ireland Rebellion of 1848, Robert Sloan, Four Courts Press 2000
*Irish Mitchel, Seamus MacCall, Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd 1938.
*Ireland Her Own, T. A. Jackson, Lawrence & Wishart Ltd 1976.
*Life and Times of Daniel O'Connell, T. C. Luby, Cameron & Ferguson.
*Young Ireland, T. F. O'Sullivan, The Kerryman Ltd. 1945.
*Irish Rebel John Devoy and America's Fight for Irish Freedom, Terry Golway, St. Martin's Griffin 1998.
*Paddy's Lament Ireland 1846-1847 Prelude to Hatred, Thomas Gallagher, Poolbeg 1994.
*The Great Shame, Thomas Keneally, Anchor Books 1999.
*James Fintan Lalor, Thomas, P. O'Neill, Golden Publications 2003.
*Charles Gavan Duffy: Conversations With Carlyle (1892), with Introduction, Stray Thoughts On Young Ireland, by Brendan Clifford, Athol Books, Belfast, ISBN 0 85034 1140. (Pg. 32 Titled, Foster’s account Of Young Ireland.)
*Envoi, Taking Leave Of Roy Foster, by Brendan Clifford and Julianne Herlihy, Aubane Historical Society, Cork.
*The Falcon Family, or, Young Ireland, by M. W. Savage, London, 1845. ( [ An Gorta Mor] )"Quinnipiac University"

Young Irelanders

* Thomas Davis
* John Blake Dillon
* Kevin Izod O'Doherty
* Michael Doheny
* John Mitchel
* Charles Gavan Duffy
* Patrick O'Donoghue
* James Fintan Lalor
* Terence MacManus
* John Martin
* Thomas Francis Meagher
* Thomas Devin Reilly
* John Edward Pigot

ee also

* Famine Rebellion of 1848
* History of Ireland (1801-1922)
* Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849)

Other groups with the name

Notes and references

External links

* [ Young Ireland] from the "Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions"
* [ An Gorta Mor] from Quinnipiac University

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Look at other dictionaries:

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