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William Smith O'Brien


William Smith O'Brien (17 October 180318 June 1864) was an Irish Nationalist and Member of Parliament (MP) and leader of the Young Ireland movement. He was convicted of sedition for his part in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848, but his sentence of death was commuted to deportation to Van Diemen's Landmarker. In 1854, he was released on the condition of exile from Ireland, and he lived in Brusselsmarker for two years. In 1856 O'Brien was pardoned and returned to Ireland, but he was never active again in politics.

Early life

Born in Dromoland, Newmarket on Fergusmarker, Co. Clare, he was the second son of Sir Edward O'Brien, 4th Baronet, of Dromoland Castlemarker. William took the additional surname Smith, his mother's maiden name, upon inheriting property through her. He was a descendant of the eleventh century Ard Rí (High King of Ireland), Brian Boru. He received an upper-class English education at Harrow Schoolmarker and Trinity College, Cambridgemarker.

Politics

From April 1828 to 1831 he was Conservative MP for Ennis. He became MP for Limerick County in 1835, holding his seat in the House of Commonsmarker until 1848.

Although a Protestant, he supported Catholic Emancipation while remaining a supporter of British-Irish union. In 1843, in protest against the imprisonment of Daniel O'Connell, he joined O'Connell's anti-union Repeal Association.

Three years later, disillusioned by O'Connell, O'Brien withdrew the Young Irelanders from the association. With Thomas Francis Meagher, in January 1847 he founded the Irish Confederation. In March 1848, he spoke out in favour of a National Guard and tried to incite a national rebellion. He was tried for sedition on May 15, 1848 but was not convicted.

Rebellion and transportation

Removal of Smith O'Brien under sentence of death


On 29 July, 1848, O'Brien and other Young Irelanders led landlords and tenants in a rising in three counties, with an almost bloodless battle against police at Ballingarry, County Tipperarymarker. In O'Brien's subsequent trial, the jury found him guilty of high treason. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Petitions for clemency were signed by 70,000 people in Ireland and 10,000 people in England.

In Dublin on 5 June 1849, the sentences of O'Brien and other members of the Irish Confederation were commuted to transportation for life to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmaniamarker in present-day Australia).

O'Brien attempted to escape from Maria Islandmarker off Tasmania, but was betrayed by Ellis, captain of the schooner hired for the escape. He was sent to Port Arthurmarker where he met up with John Mitchel, who had been transported before the rebellion. The cottages which O'Brien lived in on Maria Island and Port Arthur have been preserved in their 19th century state as memorials.

Having emigrated to the United States, Ellis was tried by another Young Irelanders leader, Terence MacManus, at a lynch court in San Franciscomarker for the betrayal of O'Brien. He was freed for lack of evidence.

John Mitchel
In 1854, after five years in Tasmaniamarker, O'Brien was released on the condition he never return to Ireland. He settled in Brusselsmarker. In May 1856, he was granted an unconditional pardon and returned to Ireland that July. He played no further part in politics.

Legacy

There is a statue of him on O'Connell Streetmarker, Dublinmarker.

His older brother Lucius O'Brien (1800-1872) was also a Member of Parliament for County Clare.

Quotes

References

  1. Article by John Cussen


Further reading



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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