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Thomas Devin Reilly (1823 - March 5 1854) was an Irishmarker revolutionary, Young Irelander and journalist.

Early years

He was born in Monaghan Townmarker, the son of a solicitor, and completed his education at Trinity College, Dublinmarker. From early on he espoused the republican beliefs of Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet and wrote for The Nation and John Martin's The Irish Felon in support of economic and political improvements for the working class. He was more interested in the realities of the common man than high idealism.

As a member of the Irish Confederation during the Potato Famine, Reilly together with John Mitchel and James Fintan Lalor advocated the refusal to pay rents, retention of crops by small tenant farmers and labourers to feed their own families, and the breaking-up of bridges and tearing-up of railway lines to prevent the removal of food from the country.

He was involved in the failed Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848 and was forced to flee to the United Statesmarker.

In America

He became active in US political affairs in support of Irish independence.

He is reported as having founded The People newspaper in New Yorkmarker which folded after six months in 1849.

James Connolly claims that as the editor of the Protective Union labour rights newspaper for the printers of Bostonmarker, Devin Reilly was a pioneer of American labour journalism and that Horace Greeley believed of his series of articles in the American Review on the European situation "that if collected and published as a book, they would create a revolution in Europe".

It is possible that Connolly has confused the United States Magazine And Democratic Review, which was known for its political activism, with the American Review, which for a time had Edgar Allan Poe as an editorial assistant - other sources refer to Devin Reilly being editor of the New York Democratic Review and later the Washington Union.

He died in 1854 at the age of 30 and is buried at Mount Oliver Catholic Cemetery in the Brentwood area of northeast Washingtonmarker together with his infant child Mollie and wife Jennie Miller from Enniskillenmarker.


Writing in The Irish Felon on the June 1848 uprising in France :-
"We are not Communists - we abhor communism for the same reason we abhor poor-law systems, and systems founded on the absolute sovereignty of wealth. Communism destroys the independence and dignity of labour, makes the workingman a State pauper and takes his manhood from him. But, communism or no communism, these 70,000 workmen had a clear right to existence - they had the best right to existence of any men in France, and if they could have asserted their right by force of arms they would have been fully justified. The social system in which a man willing to work is compelled to starve, is a blasphemy, an anarchy, and no system. For the present these victims of monarchic rule, disowned by the republic, are conquered; 10,000 are slain, 20,000 perhaps doomed to the Marquesas. But for all that the rights of labour are not conquered, and will not and cannot be conquered. Again and again the labourer will rise up against the idler - the workingmen will meet this bourgeoisie, and grapple and war with them till their equality is established, not in word, but in fact".


  1. "Thomas Devin Reilly remembered", An Phoblacht, March 11, 2004
  2. James Connolly, Labour in Irish History, Dublin: Maunsel, 1910.
  3. Anglo-Celt, August 10 1849
  4. Dictionary of Ulster Biography

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

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