Rory Oge O’More/Ruaidhri og ua Mordha

O’MORE, RORY or RURY OGE (d. 1578), Irish rebel, called in Irish Ruaidhri og ua Mordha, was second son of Rory O’More, captain of Leix, by Margaret, daughter of Thomas Butler, and granddaughter of Pierce or Piers Butler, eighth earl of Ormonde [q. v.] (cf. Lodge, Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, iv. 19; and Harl. MS. 1425, f. 119b). Sir Henry Sidney once called him ‘an obscure and base varlet,’ but his family was one of the most important of the minor Irish septs, and also one of the most turbulent.

Rory O’More (fl. 1554), the father, was son of Connell O’More (d. 1537), and early acquired the character of a violent and successful chieftain. On the death of Connell a fierce dispute broke out between the three sons—Lysaght,Kedagh, and Rory—and their uncle Peter the tanist. Peter was for the time a friend of the Butlers. Consequently the deputy, Lord Leonard Grey, supported the sons; and, although Peter was acknowledged chief, Grey got hold of him by a ruse, and led him about in chains for some time, Kedagh then seems to have secured the chieftainship, Lysaght having been killed; but he died early in 1542, and Rory, the third brother, succeeded. He, after a period of turmoil, agreed on 13 May 1542 to lead a quieter life, and made a general submission, being probably influenced by the fact that Kedagh had left a son of the same name, who long afterwards, in 1565, petitioned the privy council to be restored to his father’s inheritance. Like other Irish chiefs of the time, O’More was only a nominal friend to the English. In a grant afterwards made to his eldest son his services to King Edward VI are spoken of; but they must have been of doubtful value, as an order of 15 March 1550-1 forbade any of the name of O’More to hold land in Leix (App. to 8th Rep. Dep.-Keep. Publ. Rec. Ireland). At some uncertain time between 1550 and 1557 Rory O’More was killed, and was succeeded by a certain Connell O’More, who may be the Connell Oge O’More mentioned in 1556 in the settlement of Leix (cf. Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, i. 400, and Cal. State Papers, Irish Ser. 1509-73, pp. 135,414). He was put to death in 1557 (Annals of the Four Masters, ii. 1545). Rory left two sons, Callagh and Rory Oge. Callagh, who was brought up in England, was called by the English ‘The Calough,’ and, as he describes himself as of Gray’s Inn in 1568, he may be assumed to be the John Callow who entered there in 1567 (Foster, Reg. of Gray’s Inn, p. 39). In 1571 Ormonde petitioned for the Calough’s return, and soon afterwards he came back to Ireland, where in 1582 he was thought a sufficiently strong adherent to the English to receive a grant of land in Leix (Cal. State Papers, Irish Ser. 1574-85, pp. 392, 412).

Rory Oge O’More, the second son, was constantly engaged in rebellion. He received a pardon on 17 Feb. 1565-6, but in 1571 he was noted as dangerous, and in 1572 he was fighting Ormonde and the queen at the same time, being favoured by the weakness of the forces at the command of Francis Cosby, the seneschal of Queen’s County, and the temporary absence of Ormonde in England. In this little rebellion the Butlers and the Fitzgeralds were united against him; but when, in November 1572, Desmond escaped from Dublin, it was Rory Oge O’More who escorted him through Kildare and protected him in Queen’s County (cf. 12th Rep. Dep.-Keep. Publ. Rec. Ireland, p. 78). He was mixed up in Kildare’s plots in 1574, and taken prisoner in November. But he was soon free, and Sidney, when on his tour in 1575, wrote of him: ‘Rory Oge O’More hath the possession and settling-place in the Queen’s County, whether the tenants will or no, as he occupieth what he listeth and wasteth what he will.’ However, O’More was afraid of the deputy, and when Sydney came into his territory, he went to meet him in the cathedral of Kilkenny (December 1575), and ‘submitted himself, repenting (as he said) his former faults, and promising hereafter to live in better sort (for worse than he hath been he cannot be).’ Hence we find a new pardon granted to him on 4 June 1576 (ib. p. 179). But in the next year he hoped for help from Spain, and, pushed on by John Burke, his friend, he made a desperate attack on the Pale. He allied himself with some of the O’Connors, and gathered an army. On 18 March 1576-7 the seneschal of Queen’s County was commanded to attack Rory Oge and the O’Connors with fire and sword (13th Rep. Dep.-Keep. Publ. Rec. Ireland, p. 25). There was good reason for active hostilities, as on the 3rd the insurgents had burned Naas with every kind of horror. Sidney wrote to the council the same month: ‘Rory Oge O’More and Cormock M’Cormock O’Conor have burnt the Naas. They ranne thorough the towne lyke hagges and furies of hell, with flakes of fier fastned on poles ends’ (Cal. State Papers, Irish Ser. 1574-85, p. 107; cf. Carew MSS. 1575-88, f. 110). Later in the year O’More captured Harrington and Cosby. They were rescued by a ruse. O’More’s wife and all but O’More himself and one of those who were with him were killed. Infuriated at being caught, O’More fell upon Harrington, ‘hacked and hewed’ him so that Sidney saw his brains moving when his wounds were being dressed, then rushing through a soldier’s legs, he escaped practically naked (Carew MSS. 1575-88, f. 356). He soon afterwards burned Carlow; but in an attempt to entrap Barnaby Fitzpatrick, baron of Upper Ossory, into his hands, he was killed by the Fitzpatricks in June 1578, and his head set up on Dublin Castle. He left a son, Owen McRory O’More, whom John Burke, son of the Earl of Clanricarde, took charge of. The English got hold of him after some difficulty, and foolishly allowed him to return to his own country. He became as great a rebel as his father, and, after a life of fighting and plundering, in which, however, he recovered almost all Leix, was killed in a skirmish near Timahoe, Queen’s County, 17 Aug. 1600. Moryson called him ‘a bloody and bold young man,’ ‘The Four Masters’ an ‘illustrious, renowned, and celebrated gentleman.’ After his death the importance of the O’Mores as a sept was gone.

[Bagwell’s Ireland under the Tudors; Webb’s Compendium of Irish Biogr.; Cal. of State Papers, Irish Ser., and of the Carew MSS.; State Papers; Annals of the Four Masters, ed. O’Donovan, vols. vi. vii.; authorities quoted.]

Source: Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 42 O’More, Rory (d.1578) by William Arthur Jobson Archbold

Dolphin, of Turoe, co. Galway.

This post started very differently. Sometimes it becomes much more interesting following the female line – it’s often more difficult because things like Burke’s Landed Gentry often only list the girls by name, or just as  ” had issue, two daus.” but it can throw up some surprising results.

This started with a search for more information about Thady Grehan II (1775 – unknown) who was Peter Grehan (1749 – unknown) and Mary Roche’s eldest son. Why Thady was in the West Indies, and why his younger brother was the main beneficiary of their uncle’s will is another story.  The search led to their sister Mary who married ” Hubert Thomas Dolphin, of Turoe, co. Galway, and had issue.” and the splendidly named Dolphin family is where this all comes from.The Dolphins were one of the original Anglo-Norman families in Ireland, so by the time of Hubert and Mary Grehan’s marriage they had been in Ireland for about six hundred years. The family ” sustained great losses by confiscations and forfeitures” during the seventeenth century. But they still had land, and Hubert Thomas inherited the estates of his uncle John Dolphin, who had seven daughters. Two became nuns, and the rest all married in a very close circle.

Hubert Dolphin’s first cousin Eleanor Dolphin married Thomas Reddington, and Eleanor and Tom’s daughter Eleanor Reddington married Stephen Roche who is Mary Dolphin’s [nee Grehan] first cousin.  Another of Hubert Dolphin’s first cousins Celia Dolphin married John McDonnell and their daughter Cecilia marries into the O’Conor family. In this case to Roderic O’Conor, who is a fourth cousin of Owen O’Conor (1763 – 1831) who became the O’Conor Don in 1820 having succeeded to the title on the death of his fourth cousin Dominick O’Conor (d. 1795).  So lots of cousins marrying cousins, and some great -uncles and aunts in the picture, specifically 5x Great-Uncles and Aunts Peter Grehan, Mary Roche, and  Jane Moore, and Owen O’Conor. Owen is also Patrick Grehan I’s brother-in-law.

But it also brings us Maria O’Conor – Roderic O’Conor’s sister, her husband John Kelly, their children, and most specifically two of their grandsons Gerald and Arthur Neilan.

On either side in the Easter Rising 1916

” Gerald Neilan was the first British officer to die in the Rising; his brother was a rebel.” – Irish Times. The shot that killed him was fired from the Mendicity Institute on the banks of the River Liffey.

Mendicity Institute, Dublin

I came across three extraordinary articles recently. Two from the Irish Times, and one from the Irish Mirror, they were all written about two years ago, on the centenary of the Easter Rising, and I’m not going to quote them entirely. You can read them here – Irish Mirror – 26 Mar 2016Irish Times – Mon, Mar 28, 2016, – Irish Times – Sun, Apr 24, 2016,

I’ll let the Irish Times tell the next part of the story.


” In Glasnevin Cemetery there is a faded headstone over the Neilan family plot. Husband and wife John and Eva Neilan are buried there. They came originally from outside Roscommon town. After her husband died, Eva Neilan moved to Dublin. She died in 1930, outliving the first of her children listed on the headstone Lieutenant Gerald Neilan R.D.F (Royal Dublin Fusiliers).”

” His date of death is instructive as to when and why he died — “killed in Dublin, Easter Monday 1916, aged 34”. Neilan was the first British officer to die in the Easter Rising. He was an Irishman so “strongly nationalistic in his sympathies as to be almost a Sinn Féiner”, according to the author Stephen Gwynn. He was one of four Neilan brothers who served in the army during the first World War, three of them as doctors in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC)……. One Neilan brother though took a different path. Arthur Neilan was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in 1913 and joined the Irish Volunteers shortly afterwards. He was only 18. On Easter Monday, Arthur Neilan was told by Patrick Pearse to proceed to the Four Courts garrison which needed reinforcements and found himself fighting in the same garrison that had killed his brother earlier that day. ” – Irish Times

All the stories reflect quite strongly on the tragic irony of Arthur Neilan serving along side the men who killed his brother, and the story of Irishmen fighting Irishmen on the streets of Dublin. What they don’t do is look in greater depth at what and who these men were, and I suspect the real story is a great deal more complicated than it looks at first sight.

The second Irish Times article, and the Irish Mirror article both quote a niece of both men, and the overall tone of the articles creates a very different picture from what is actually the case. As is often the way, the family folklore takes on a life of its own, and doesn’t appear to quite tell the real story. The first real clues to look at are the sentence ” He (Gerald)  was an Irishman so “strongly nationalistic in his sympathies as to be almost a Sinn Féiner”, according to the author Stephen Gwynn.”  and “ It is so, so sad because they should have been a happy co-operative family. They were loyal to the British. They looked on Arthur as a rebel.”. – S.M. –  Gerald and Arthur Neilan’s niece

Stephen Gwynn (1864-1950)

The two seem to contradict each other quite strongly. So let’s look at them in a little more depth. The quote from Stephen Gwynn seems to have been added to the Irish Times article from a book ” According to their Lights by Neil Richardson “ The Collins Press, 2015. A fuller quote is below.

” Stephen Lucius Gwynn – Irish Party M.P. , and also a Connaught Rangers officer later wrote in John Redmond’s Last Years (1919) about the ambush that killed Gerald Neilan on Ellis Quay. He recalled that Neilan “was so strongly Nationalist in his sympathies as to be almost a Sinn Féiner”, and that among the other Royal Dublin Fusiliers casualties “Others had been active leaders in the Howth gun-running. It was not merely a case of Irishmen firing on their fellow countrymen; it was one section of the original Volunteers firing on another. “

So the question now is how ” British ” were the Neilan brothers. The family folklore continued in an interview in the Irish Mirror  “The family had always lived in Roscommon. My grandfather was a Justice of the Peace and a loyal British subject. Of course a lot of the people were then – they were in Great Britain. I never met my grandmother because she died in 1930. My grandfather John Alexander Neilan had sadly died in 1903, so I didn’t meet him either. But seven of their children survived to be grown-ups, and I knew all but two quite well………But because they had been brought up to be extremely British, and my grandfather was a Justice of the Peace, I think they were terribly hurt when Arthur went and fought for the rebels.”

This part of the story of the two brothers is starting to cause some problems. It’s told from a very British perspective, and almost certainly reflects the side of the family that had either moved to co. Durham before the First War, or settled there after the War. I think the bigger question is how Irish were the Neilan brothers, and the answer is very.  Maria O’Conor their maternal grandmother was a fourth cousin of Owen O’Conor (1763 – 1831) who became the O’Conor Don in 1820. He was Patrick Grehan I’s brother-in-law, so stretching things almost to breaking point there is a family link. So the Neilan boys are fourth cousins twice removed from great-uncle Owen.

King Dan’s speech- Convent Garden 12th March 1844

This is from The Times, on Wednesday 13th March, 1844. It’s a very long post, but worth it. To get a full sense of the power of Dan’s oratory, try reading it as though you are speaking it.  At the time of the speech, he had been arrested, charged with conspiracy, and sentenced to a year in prison and fined  £2,000., but not yet jailed.  The sentence was set aside after Dan had been in prison three months. He served his sentence at the Richmond Bridewell in Dublin, living in the Governor’s House with his own servants, and food brought in. He was released on 4th September 1844.


Last night a dinner was given at Covent Garden Theatre to Mr. O’Connell, ” to show,” as the announcement expressed it, ” the admiration entertained by Englishmen for his constant and consistent advocacy of the rights and privileges of Irishmen, for more than 40 years.”

The pit of the theatre was boarded over so as to make it level with the stage, and five long tables, with two slips occupying the bend of the boxes, making seven tables in all were spread in that part of the house. There were six cross tables and ten long tables spread on the stage, beside the grand table, at which sat the chairman, the guest (Mr. O’Connell), and several noblemen, members of Parliament, and others.

The decorations of the portion of the arena behind the proscenium remained the same as they were on the occasion of the late Bal Masqué, The chairman sat in the centre of the stage, with the chief guests on his right and left. At back of, and immediately over the chair, suspended from the ceiling, there was a brilliant illumination of variegated lamps, representing the rose, the thistle, and the shamrock, underneath which appeared, in front of the raised orchestra, the word ” O’Connell,” in variegated lamps. On the right of the device was the word ” Ireland,” and on the left the word ” Justice,” also in variegated lamps. At the back of the chair was the retiring-room, over which was the orchestra, containing 30 vocal and instrumental performers, under the direction of Mr. G. Stansbury. The great salle, formed by the boarded pit and the stage, was illuminated by 30 elegant ormolu chandeliers, in addition to the great chandelier suspended from the centre of the theatre, and the smaller chandeliers suspended over each box in the dress circle. The stage was adorned by mirrors at the centre and the sides. The whole of the boxes were appropriated to ladies, and every place was filled. The galleries were also densely crowded. About 1,100 persons sat down to dinner, and the effect of the whole theatre when thus brilliantly filled was most imposing. Owing to the excellence of the arrangements, no confusion whatever took place. At a few minutes before 6 o’clock, the chairman and the other chief guests entered the room, accompanied by Mr. O’Connell. On the hon. and learned gentleman’s appearance, he was received with a general burst of cheering from all parts of the house.

At 6 o’clock the chair was taken by Mr. T. Duncombe, M.P., supported on his right by Mr. O’Connell, and on his Ieft by the Earl of Shrewsbury. The following noblemen and gentlemen were among the principal guests : – Lord Camoys, the Earl of Dunboyne, the Hon. F. H. Berkeley M.P.; the Hon. Charles Langdale; Sir R.W. Bulkeley, M.P.; Sir John Easthope, M.P.; Mr. William Collins, M.P.; Mr. Serjeant Murphy, M.P.; Mr. W. H. Tancred, M.P.; Mr. Henry Metcalfe, M.P.; Mr. W. S. Crawford, M.P.; Mr. Wynne Ellis, M.P.; Mr. M. J. Blake, M.P.; Mr. Thomas Gisborne, M.P.; Mr. Charles Hindley, M.P.; Mr. James Pattison, M.P..; Mr. John Dennistoun, M.P.; -Mr. H. Elphinstone, M.P.; Mr. Robert Hollond, M.P.; Mr. Joshua Scholefield, M.P.; Mr. B. S. Butler, M.P.; Sir V. Blake, M P.; Mr. M. J. O’Connell, M.P.; Mr.W. Williams, M.P.; Dr. Bowring, M.P.; Sir B. Wray, the Hon. W. B. Nugent, Mr. Edward Weld, Mr. Rigby Wason, Mr. J. A. Yates, Major Revell, Mr. James Harmer, Senor Olozaga, General Washington Barron, Mr. Summers Harford, and Mr. John Travere.

Grace having been sung by the vocalists (Messrs. Stansbury, T. Cooke, Atkins, P. Bedford, and several others), the company sat down to dinner, which was very well provided by Mr. Rouse. During the dinner, the band, directed by Mr. Godfrey, played several national Irish airs. The cloth having been removed and grace sung.

The Chairman then rose to propose the health of Her Majesty. When he considered, he said, the importance of this occasion (hear), and the influence of individuals so distinguished for their abilities and their eloquence who were invited to meet their distinguished guest (hear), he could not but feel how inadequate he was to fill the chair. (” -No, no.”), In the discharge of the duty imposed on him, however, he stood there to propose the health of the Sovereign, who, let the faults and delinquencies of her Ministers be what they might (” hear” and laughter), held, he believed, a firmer place in the hearts and affections of the people, whether of Ireland or of England (hear), than it had ever been the fate of any Sovereign of this country to possess. (Cheers.) To be sure, he had heard, at the close of a long debate in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister express a wish that the Queen of England might set her foot on Irish ground, and, like some benignant spirit, restore peace and harmony to that distracted country. That wish, in his (Mr. Duncombe’s) opinion, implied disloyalty to the Irish people. (Hear.) Who was it that prevented the Queen from setting her foot in Ireland ! Was it Mr. O’Connell (Cries of ” No ! ” and cheers.) Was it the Irish people (“No ! ”) – a people whose loyalty was proverbial even to weakness! (A laugh.) No; it would be a libel on them to assert that it was they who prevented the Queen from going to Ireland. It was that faction (hear) – that faction which in 1330 prevented King William from enjoying the pleasure of witnessing the loyalty, and partaking the hospitality, of the citizens of London. (Cheers.) The real reason was, that those whose duty it would be to attend the Queen to Ireland were afraid to show their faces there among the people – a people whose origin and religion they had, so scandalously traduced, maligned, and insulted. (Cheers.) It was well known, that the Queen had intended to visit Ireland last year; but she did not, and Belgium and. France were favoured instead, while Ireland – poor Ireland was, as usual, neglected. (Hear.) To be sure, it was a gratifying sight to the friends of international peace to witness the Queen returning to her native shores, the standard of England and the French tricolour waving from the same mast and in the same breeze – an union which he trusted would never be interrupted; but how much more gratifying a sight would it have been to have seen the Queen returning from her Irish subjects, after having personally witnessed their loyalty, and investigated the manifold wrongs and oppressions which they had so long and so patiently endured, and, satisfied that their complaints were well founded, to the confusion of evil counsellors, declaring that the union between England and Ireland should no longer be an union in name, but should hereafter be based on equal laws, rights, and privileges (hear, hear) –that there should no longer be any preference for class, sect, country, or creed ! (Cheers.) He (Mr. Duncombe) trusted, that the day was not far distant when he might behold this state of things – he trusted that they might yet come to pass – and believing as he did that they had a Sovereign who was anxious to accomplish them, and knowing as he did that the people were determined to achieve them (Hear), it was with pride that he now proposed the health of  ” the Queen, and long may she reign over a happy, a free, and an united people.” (Cheers).

The toast was received with loud cheers, and the National Anthem having been sung The Chairman then gave, ” Prince Albert, and the rest of the Royal family,” which was also drunk with enthusiasm.

The neat toast was ” The Navy and Army.” After which, The Chairman rose and said, it was now his duty to propose “ Health and long life to Daniel O’Connell.” [At the mention of the hon. and learned gentleman’s name the whole audience rose and cheered. The ladies in the boxes rose, and waved their handkerchiefs, and the whole surface of the pit presented the same appearance of waving hand- kerchiefs. The mass of white, from the floor to the ceiling, reminded one of a snow-storm. This scene of excitement was continued, with frequent renewals, during considerably more than five minutes.] Yes ! although he knew that he should be incurring the displeasure of certain high persons at the Home-office (laughter), he asked them to join with him in wishing health and happiness to this convicted conspirator. [Here there there was a renewal of the previous scene.] He rejoiced to hear that hearty sympathetic cheer for the chosen representative of Ireland, and through him for the whole people of Ireland; and he was quite sure that no observations of his could induce the meeting to do additional honour to the toast which he was about to propose. But in justice to them, as well as in justice to the public feeling that he knew existed at present in this country (hear), he could not deprive himself of the gratification of assuring their distinguished guest (Cheers), that this sympathy, and this enthusiasm, was not confined to within these walls. (Loud cheers.) He could assure him, that this building, had it been ten times more spacious, would have been insufficient for those who were anxious to come forward, not only to testify their esteem and respect for him as a patriot and a man, but for the purpose of expressing, by their presence, their disgust and indignation (hear, hear) at the persecution and the injustice, at the treachery and meanness (hear) -the malignity and vindictiveness (hear, hear) – which had marked the recent State trials, as they were called, in Ireland, and of which he and others were attempted to be made the victims – The Attorney-General for Ireland (hisses) -the first law officer of the Crown in that country – he, at the onset of the proceedings, pledged himself that he would prove the existence of one of the foulest and one of the most wicked conspiracies that ever endangered the safety of an empire. He would not insult their understandings, by asking them. how he succeeded. All England, every honest man in England proclaimed his failure. (Cheers.) All England despised his attempts, and cried shame upon the Government proceedings. (Cheers, and cries of “Shame ?”) It was with much satisfaction that he heard the other evening, one who had been high in the councils of Her Majesty, a member of the late Government, and a leading member of the Opposition at the present moment – he meant Lord John Russell – it was with great satisfaction that he heard that noble lord express his opinion of Mr. O’Connell, that he had not had a fair trial (cheers)  and that if he had been tried by an English judge and an English jury, it was his opinion that he would have been acquitted. (Cheers). Was he not justified in stating to Mr O’Connell, that he must not judge of the whole feeling of this country by that which had been testified upon the present occasion, he must not believe that with this evening’s proceedings the enthusiasm would end ! No, he might depend upon it, they would not remain tongue-tied (hear) while they saw this prosecution pursuing its accursed way, and not make any attempt to rescue from its fangs that man in whom were centred the hopes and affections of the Irish people. (Cheers). If there was no stronger inducement than their attachment to the impartial administration of justice, he was sure the attempt would be made (hear); but let him remind them, that that which was Ireland’s fate today might be England’s tomorrow if they quietly looked on. (Cries of “No”) If they saw juries packed – if they allowed judges to become Ministerial partisans – if they allowed the law to be strained – if they allowed public meetings, legally convened – to be put to an end by proclamations – if they allowed the rights of petition to be abrogated by such proceedings – if they allowed it to be proclaimed that the sword and the bayonet were the just remedies, they might depend upon it that struggles of their ancestors for freedom would have been in vain, if their descendants acted with such pusillanimity. (Cheers) But had Mr O’Connell no other claims on their admiration and support ! Had they forgotten the Catholic Emancipation measure (cheers) which was his act, and his only? To him the Catholics were indebted for it. To him the Liberal Protestants owed their admiration. Had they forgotten, also, that to Mr O’Connell and the Irish members they were indebted for most valuable assistance in the struggle that took place for the Reform Bill ! (Cheers) True it was that the Reform Bill had disappointed – had sadly disappointed – them; but Mr O’Connell was not responsible for that. (Hear, hear) Had not Mr O’Connell made many sacrifices for the cause of liberty ! Had he not devoted his time, his services in his profession, and his fortune, to the cause of the people, and his services at the present moment were at the command of his country. (Loud cheers) He (Mr Duncombe) had heard Mr O’Connell in the House of Commons state to Ministers, that if they would bring in measures for the benefit of Ireland, his much-injured country, he care not how they treated him: he would forget it all in the prosperity of his country, and co-operate strenuously with them for the benefit of his native land. What return had these Ministers mad to the man? What was their reply to the proposition? Why, the reply was this – that concession had seen its utmost limits, and that condign punishment must be his reward. It was quite clear that the last act of that contemptible drama which had been played in Ireland had yet to be enacted, and that the Government, halloed on by the bloodhounds of the Tory press, meant to send the law officers of the Crown again into the Court of Queen’s bench in Dublin, there to demand the vengeance of the Court upon their victim. (“Never”) Nay, at this moment you could not go into any society, but if you met any persons who belonged to what was called the Orange faction, with that peculiar delicacy which invariably attached to all their proceedings, you heard them speculating as to the number of years for which Mr O’Connell was to be incarcerated. (Laughter). More than this, they might be heard speculating on the relative strength of the gaols of Kilmainham and Carrickfergus. (Hisses and derisive laughter.) Deluded and short-sighted men ! Did they think that by his incarceration in a prison they could conceal Mr O’Connell from the eyes of his countrymen ! – did they think that imprisoning such a man, that his virtues, and that his patriotism, would be lost to their memories ! No. He told them in their name, and he told them in the name of the people of England – yes, and in the name of the toiling millions of England, that how dark soever might be his cell – how strong soever might be his dungeon – how gross soever the indignities they might heap upon his head: and he told Mr O’Connell in that vast and gorgeous assembly, that he might lay his head in peace upon his pillow, for that the petitions, ay, and the remonstrances too of millions of the virtuous, the patriotic, and the good, would not only attest to his innocence, but would proclaim his liberation from within the very walls of Parliament itself. (Cheering) He told them before that he had already gone beyond the limits he had assigned to himself, and he was satisfied that nothing he could urge would strengthen the feelings they had towards their patriotic and illustrious guest; and he should, therefore, conclude his observations by saying that they, in honouring Mr O’Connell, did honour to themselves; and, farther, that they testified their sympathy and regard for a people whose rights and liberties, whose prosperity and happiness, ought to be, and he was sure were, as sacred to them as their own. (Cheers) He had now, therefore, only to propose – “ Health and long life to Daniel O’Connell. “

The toast was received with the same enthusiasm that attended the first mention of Mr O’Connell’s name. The cheering and waving of handkerchiefs continued for some minutes.

Mr O’Connell ( after the cheering with which he was greeted had subsided) rose, and spoke as follows: –

I protest to you this is the first time in a long and variegated life that, with truth I may say, I feel unmanned – I feel overpowered. The dungeon that my enemies and yours have prepared for me has no terrors to my mind (Cheers); and, if the scaffold and the rack could be added to it, they would not bring such overpowering sensations to my mind as the awful magnitude of the compliment you have paid to me today. (Cheers) Oh ! how ardent must be your love of justice. Oh ! how steady and severe your hatred for judicial partiality. How you must delight in seeing justice rendered with the same intensity that you hate the practice of partiality and injustice ! What are my claims on your sympathy? That I am the victim of injustice – simply because the  law has been violated in my person, simply because those in power have practised iniquity, and you, who have integrity and manliness, know how to hate them. (Cheers) Yes, you are able to turn defeat into victory, (Cheers) and to make conviction not a source of punishment but triumph. (Cheers) You make me glad that I have been convicted. It is no exaggeration to use that expression. I use it in all the sincerity of my heart, because you have shown a sympathy in England for Ireland; you have convinced me, not reluctantly to be sure, but with some difficulty, that there is a higher mind animating the masses of the middle classes, and the better part of the higher classes, in England, which teaches me that we were born to be united in affection and in interest – born to be combined against the world, and that we have on enemies but those who are enemies of both. (Cheers) Yes, I do delight in the events that have taken place. I think they will tend to great good in both branches of the country. I am sure of this, that the people of Ireland will hear with gratitude, to be extinguished only with their lives, of the manner in which I have been received lately in more popular assemblies than one, and in that brilliant assemblaze that is now before me. (Cheers) Oh ! what a scene is here tonight. When I see the rank and station, when I contemplate the wealth and importance, when I see the manly determination and the kindly glisten of the friendly eye, when I behold those beings that seem to turn it to fairy land, those sylphs and celestial beings animating and smiling upon us, I do rejoice that at any inconvenience to myself I have beheld such a transcendent spectacle. (Cheers) They have convicted me: but you ask how and of what ! I am here to tell you of what. They have convicted me not of a crime defined or definite – not of anything you can read in law books, but of something the judges have spelt out of those law books, and put together to form a monster indictment. It is literally so. – [Considerable interruption here took place owing to the great difficulty of hearing Mr O’Connell in the more distant parts of the house. The confusion continued until Mr O’Connell, advancing towards the centre of the house, mounted on a table, and thus continued his address]

I was endeavouring to vindicate the judgement you had formed. My task, I may say, was that of vindicating you to yourselves, of endeavouring to prove that you are perfectly justified in the ardour of your enthusiasm in supporting my cause and that of the Irish people. (Cheers) The accusation that has been made against me, and on which I have been convicted is of that enormous nature, that it is interesting to every human being, whether he be himself liable to a similar machination or not, to understand distinctly its bearing, its form and its pressure. It is not a crime respecting the evidence for which there is any possible resort to law nooks, or to the conjurations of men of my trade. It is called, to be sure, a conspiracy; but there is nothing of private agreement – there is nothing of arrangement – there is nothing of plot or plan in it. It is something that the judges imagine when they dream, and make the public suffer when they are awake. (Cheers) One of our female authors of celebrity in the fulness of the feminine imagination has depicted to the world an imaginary being of extraordinary dimensions, and of voracious capacity, and denominated it Frankenstein. The conspiracy tried in Ireland was the Frankenstein of the law, uncouth of limb, unshaped in form, undefined and indefinite in manner, having nothing of humanity about it, having nothing of law but its monstrosity. (Cheers) How was it endeavoured to be supported ? By the history of nine months. What plot did it disclose ? Why a plot which was carefully committed to those cautious keepers of secrets, the public newspapers. (Cheers) Not one witness was produced to prove any fact except that A and B were proprietors of newspapers, and members of the association, and then the newspapers were read in detail against us; the judges determined that that was evidence of conspiracy, and here I stand before you a convicted conspirator. (Cheers) The history of nine months was given in this most satisfactory manner. The chronology of the newspapers, the dates of them were all varied one week from another. The history of 41 giant meetings was detailed as it appeared in the public prints, and was it alleged that any one of these meetings was illegal ? – that there was force, violence, tumult, or turbulence at any one of them ? There was not a particle of any such allegation that the magistracy or the constables, or the idle and the timid, were intimidated or frightened at any one of these meetings ? There was not a single allegation of the kind. They were peaceable. They were admitted to be legal. Each and every one of them were admitted to be legal. But by the dexterity of judicial magic, the 41, though each perfectly legal separately, when taken together formed a conspiracy. (Cheers). It is literally so. I am not mocking you when I tell you literally the fact, that 41 legal meetings were held to make an illegal one. Forty-one cyphers would not make a sum, and yet, in point of law, it was decided in our case that 41 nothings made a something, and we are to abide the event. Oh ! the scorn and indignation of mankind ought to be poured out on such an abomination of injustice. (Cheers) I arraign the men as conspirators who planned such a trial. I arraign, as the worst species of conspirators, the men who carried on this mock prosecution with all the trickery and chicanery of Old Bailey practitioners. (Cheers) What is fact today judges call precedent tomorrow, and, if this question be allowed to repose, if this precedent be once established, Englishmen, there is not one of you whose case it may not be tomorrow. (Cheers) I say not this to threaten or menace you. I say not this to instigate you to warmth in support of the people of Ireland; for I would be the most mistaken of human beings, if I were not aware already, from what I have seen in England, that it is unnecessary to animate you, or to give you any motives for acting, but your own generous feelings. (Cheers) I arraign, therefore that prosecution against me, and I tell you you are justified in arraigning it for want of anything like legal form or fixity, for want of anything that you can encounter; for it is a monstrous shadow that may be armed with deadly weapons by a miscreant administration of the law, but which has in it nothing that is tangible which a rational man can meet in fair conflict of argument or judicial discrimination. What is my next arraignment ? The conduct of the judge (Cheers) – and here I have one consolation, that no one human being attempts to justify the judge. (Cheers) The usual practice in Parliament is, when any man is arraigned for misconduct, the Ministry, if he happens to be a Ministerial man, and the Opposition, if he happens to be an Opposition man, suddenly discover that he really was endowed with all possible human virtues. They get up and eulogise him, never having discovered that he had so many good qualities till he was attacked – that is the usual course of Parliamentary proceeding. But there is one man of whom men of all classes are ashamed, a person no one praised, and that man is Chief-Justice Penefather. Nobody attempted to eulogise him. It is admitted that since the hideous days of Scroggs and Jefferys so one-sided a charge was never pronounced by judicial lips. (Cheers) He is taken back to the worst days of the history of the law. It is admitted – it was asserted and not denied – I saw it myself – he borrowed part of the prosecuting counsel’s brief to help him make his charge, and in addressing the jury he showed the bent of his mind – “ out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh” – he talked of the counsel on the other side. (Shame) Let it be proclaimed throughout England – from the extremity of Cornwall to the highest part of Scotland – let it be known throughout the length and breadth of the land – that there has been a trial where a chief-justice presiding was admitted to have made the charge of an advocate, which was incapable of defence by any party or any government. (Loud cheers) You see how I am coaxing him to pass a lenient sentence on me. (Cheers and a laugh) What is my next impeachment of this proceeding ? I am here to vindicate myself and countrymen, and you for your sympathy and support. (Cheers) My next impeachment is the management of the jury panel. Out of 710 names, 63 slipped by accident. (Cheers) We had a lottery, out of 773, 710 alone remained; 63 were wanting. (Villainy) To be sure it was villainy; it would not be accident. (Cheers) Especially out of the 63, 27 were Roman Catholic. Perhaps you do not know that I am of that persuasion. (Cheers and a laugh) And here let me say, that when my esteemed and valued friend (your Chairman) awhile ago told you that the Roman Catholics were indebted to me for my exertion in favour of their emancipation, he might have added with truth – I add with pride – that I sought for that emancipation, not by the assertion of sectarian preference or party, but on the great and glorious principle that religion is a matter between man and his Creator (Cheers) and there is no freedom or justice in any country where a man is prohibited worshipping his God according to the dictates of his conscience. (Cheers) It was upon that principle that we petitioned for the Protestant Dissenters in England, and helped to obtain their emancipation. (Cheers) There is the hand that drew the petition that was signed by 28,000 Catholics praying for the emancipation of the Protestant Dissenters of England, and, within one fortnight after that petition was presented Lord John succeeded; and Peel was compelled to emancipate the Protestant Dissenters. (Cheers) pardon me for this digression; but it is important that we should understand each other well. The people of Ireland have waited for their own freedom of conscience; they were in power three times since the Reformation, and they never persecuted a single Protestant. (Cheers) Let us then contend with each other, in the good, the charitable, the benevolent generous flow of our feelings, and take no credit for particular sectarian advantages, and let us establish the liberty of all on the broad basis of Christian brotherhood. (Cheers)  I come back to the trial. The 63 names slipped out. Mark now, for one moment: there is something of technicality in what I am going to tell you, but I think you will easily comprehend me. We challenged the array on account of the 63 names which had been dropped. In that challenge – the document is on record – we alleged that those names were fraudulently spoliated from the list – we alleged that this was done to the detriment of the traversers. That plea was put on the record. The Attorney-general had it in his power to join issue and say the thing had not been fraudulently done. That question of fraud would have been tried by lawyers duly sworn; but he declined to do so. he left the allegation uncontroverted – it was uncontroverted  on the record to this day, and he relied on this, that he had judges who told him and told us that, as we did not know who it was that committed the fraud, we were without remedy. (Shame) It is literally true. I am here talking to the common sense of Englishmen – to their sense of honesty, and to that noble adherence to fair play, which above all things else is the highest and most dignified trait in the English character. It is a common saying all over the world, when two men are found fighting, people who come up are sure to take part with one or the other; but in England it is proverbial that no two people fight that those who come up don’t see fair play. I am telling you those things, and appealing to your fair play. There is no one word in any other language that can express such a character, and it deserves to have a word coined for itself. The fraud is uncontroverted till the present moment; the only answer we get, as I told you, was, “you don’t know who committed the fraud, and therefore there is no remedy.” Suppose a man is robbed and does not know the name of the thief, if he went before Sir Peter Laurie, or any other of your white witches, and said “ I caught this man escaping from my premises with my goods.” everybody would laugh at Sir Peter more than they do if he were to say “ I cannot listen to your complaint: you do not know the man’s name.” (A laugh) And yet on that most ridiculous assertion we were told that the fraud must go unpunished, and we must be punished for mentioning the fraud. (Cheers, and cries of “Shame”)

There remains one more impeachment, and that is my impeachment of the jury that was sworn. In point of law Protestant and Catholic have equal right to be on that jury. (Cheers.) In point of justice it ought to be so; in fair play it would be so. Chief-Justice Fairplay would have decided for me at once. Yet what was the first step ? Eleven Catholics were on the reduced list, every one of them was struck off by the Crown Solicitor. They say, to be sure, they were Repealers. In the first place it is not true: that is one answer. In the next place, if it were true it would be no reply; because, being a Repealer might be a great folly, but it is not a crime: it is not a crime which makes a man an outlaw (Cheers) ; and if being a Repealer would make a juror favourable to me, I ask you whether my most rancorous and violent opponents – men who had voted three times against me -could be considered a fair and impartial jury against me. This is their own argument. I convict them out of their own mouths. I appeal to common sense, if a Repealer would be favourable to me, is not your anti-Repealer necessarily favourable to another. (Cheers.) But recollect this, it was the more important to have a fair jury in this case, because the crime was not a distinct one. If it had been a charge of robbery, or murder, or forgery, any human intellect could have understood the nature of the crime, and would only have had to decide the fact whether the party charged was guilty or innocent. But here was an imaginary crime, participating more of ideality than reality – here was something that was to be spelled out of the recesses of the criminal law, and it emphatically called for a thoroughly impartial as well as a thoroughly intelligent jury to investigate it. (Cheers.)

One Protestant they struck off – as respectable an individual as ever lived -almost the only liberal Protestant in the entire panel. The man whose intellect was of the highest order, the intelligent Protestant, they sent to keep company with the 11 Catholics. Yet they call this a fair trial. I call it not prosecution, but persecution. (Cheers.) I call it not a fair trial, but shifting, scheme, and management. (Cheers.) I say I am not the person convicted by the due course of law. In prison I shall feel that I am a victim, and in that prison I shall have the feeling at heart that will raise me superior to the punishment. (Loud cries of “Hear.”) Oh ! I see I have plenty here to open the prison door. (Loud cheers.) But it would be very idle to suppose that I am not thoroughly prepared for an event of that kind. Whatever I suffer for my country I rejoice in that suffering, and she is rendered doubly dearer to me by any infliction imposed on me for acting in defence of her freedom and happiness, and they mistake much who imagine that my influence will be diminished, or my power of persuasion over my countrymen will be lessened by any sentence they may possibly inflict on me. (Cheers.) However, I will not dispute with you on the nature of the sentence. I have shown you the culpability of the proceeding. I have arraigned the parties to it here, where my voice, unconfined by these walls, will reach all over the world wherever the English language is spoken: wherever the ear understands its accents my words will be conveyed on the wings of the press, and in presence of the congregrated civilization of the world, in the presence of America, of France and India, of every clime and country, I proclaim the proceedings against me a foul and dishonest persecution (Loud cheers), and I hurl at the tyrants of the law my merciless scorn and defiance. (Loud cheers.) But it will be asked what object I had in view at those meetings. You may say to me ” ’tis true you ought not to have been convicted, but you have an account still to render to us; you are accused of wishing to separate England from Ireland.” I have been accused of unnecessarily meddling with an enactment that took place 44 years ago, of needlessly reviving old causes of complaint, and accumulating new grievances to make them more unbearable. Now, I am quite ready to meet that charge, and I should be utterly unworthy of the magnificent compliment you have paid me this evening, if I were not ready here, in the presence of you Englishmen, to justify everything that I have done, and to rebut every imputation which has been cast upon me. (Loud cheers.) I will tell you why I have held these meetings, and I will abide by your disinterested judgment. They say there is a union between the two countries. I utterly deny it. There is a parchment enactment (Cheers), but there is no real union. (Cheers.) What is the meaning of a real union ? A perfect identification between the two countries (Cheers) – that there should be no difference between Englishmen and Irishmen, except a little in the accent (a laugh) – that Englishmen and Irishmen should possess the same rights, the same privileges, and the same franchises (cheers)-that there should be no difference between the men of Kent and the men of Cork (cheers) – between the men of Mayo and the men of Lancashire. (Renewed cheers.) That England and Ireland should be one nation, possessed precisely of the same rights, the same franchises, and the same privileges. Is not that the real meaning of a union ? (Cheers) I appealed to the imperial Parliament to make the union what I have described it, but I appealed in vain. TheTories, of course refused, and the Whigs were equally complimentary. (Cheers and laughter.) I do not wish to weary this assembly by the barrenness of statistics, I will, however, draw your attention to one or two statements. The county of Cork, which I have the honour to represent, has 710,000 inhabitants in its agricultural districts, and upwards of 140,000 inhabitants in its cities and towns, so that the population of Cork, taken together, amounts to 850,000 inhabitants. Now, the inhabitants of Wales are 800,000, being 50,000 less than the inhabitants of the county of Cork. The county of Cork, with its 850,000 inhabitants, returns just eight members to Parliament – and now many members do you think Wales returns with its 800,000 ? Why, just 28. (Hear, hear.) One Welshman is not able to beat five Irishmen. (Cheers and laughter.) The Welsh are a brave and perhaps sometimes ill-tempered race. (Cheers and laughter); but, at the same time, I respectfully submit that one Welshman is not worth five Irishmen. (A laugh.) Man for man,I am quite content to allow; but I cannot admit that, as compared with my own countrymen, they are worth five to one. (Loud cheers and laughter.) I cannot admit they are entitled to retain 28 members for the 800,000 inhabitants, while the county of Cork, with its 850,000 inhabitants, is only to return eight members to Parliament.(Cheers.) Ought that to last ? (Cries of “No, no.”) Is it not a thing that ought to be changed ? (Cries of” Yes, yes.”) They laughed at me when I called for the change. Then, again, let us look at the question in another point of view. The parliamentary returns, made seven years ago, on the registration of voters, showed that there were 4,000 registered voters for the county of Cork, with a population of 710,000 inhabitants, while in Wales there were 36,000 registered voters. I was looking over the Parliamentary returns this morning, and I find the number of registered voters for Cork is now 1,500 – only 1,500 ! (Hear, hear.) The votes for the largest county in Ireland are nearly extinguished by the operation of the Registration Act, while in Wales the number of voters has increased by 2,000. There are 38,000 registered voters in Wales, and 1,500 for the county of Cork. Now is that common sense ? Is that justice? Is that fairness, or is it honesty? (“No,no”) l have obtained the love and affection of my countrymen. (Hear, hear.) I know what it is to feel the delight of being borne along, as it were, on the breath of a people. (Cheers.) Oh ! if you saw the stalwart men leaving their work and flocking to the roadside as I pass by; if you saw them in the attitude of firmness, and watched their eye beaming with affection as they looked on me, and their hand outstretched, almost asking me, would you wish that we should strike the blow ?(hear, hear) – if you saw the aged woman greeting me as I passed by, and praying for my health and prosperity – if you saw the merry children and heard their chirping cry as I went along (cheers) praying for blessings on the head of him whom they called the father of their country (cheers);  – oh, if you had seen and felt this as I have seen and felt it; if you had seen the congregated hundreds and thousands – ay, more than a million – come at my call and dissolve with my breath, whom I have taught the lesson of which I am an apostle – that no political advantage can be of so much importance as to justify the shedding of one single drop of human blood (cheers) ; this is the lesson they have been taught; this is the lesson they practise (cheers); and this is the lesson they will continue to practise until the triumphant success of their efforts shall imprint the maxim upon the wise and good of all nations (Cheers); – if you had seen all this as I have experienced it you would think me, indeed, the basest of all mankind if I did not struggle to remedy the inequalities of which I have mentioned two, but of which I might cite a hundred, existing between the two countries. (Cheers.) The Irish nation, to be properly represented, ought to have 160 members at the least; and that is less even than her right. We would take less for a compromise: they will give us none; but set us at defiance and indict us for a conspiracy for endeavouring to obtain them. (Cheers.) Are you aware that the Corporate Reform Bill given to Ireland is most miserably defective in every respect. In England whoever is rated to the poor-rate is a burgess, and is entitled to vote at municipal elections; but, in Dublin, in order to be upon the burgess-lists it is necessary that a man should be rated at 10s., that is, he should occupy a 20s. house and that he should have paid no less than nine different rates. The consequence is, that in Dublin not above one-third of those who ought to be burgesses are on the list. (Hear hear.) I ask for equality with the English Corporate Reform Bill, and when I call the people together that they may insist on the desirable alterations in a peaceable, tranquil, and constitutional manner, I am indicted for  a conspiracy. (Cheers.) But there is another grievance in Ireland greater than all these. It may have the appearance of prejudice on my part, or of sectarian fanaticism, that I should advert to it now; but, as I have assailed it elsewhere, I am ready boldly to assail it here, and to take your judgment on it. I allude to the established church in Ireland. (Cheers.) Gentlemen, I appeal to you whether the church in England, that has the state emoluments, is not the church of the great majority of the people? (Cries of ” No.”) So much the worse; it ought to be. Well, that is a disputed question which I will not argue. The church of Scotland, until lately, was the church of the great majority; but the church in Ireland, which has the state emoluments, is not and never has been the church of the majority. (Hear.) I do not want the emoluments of that church for my church – I would not accept them. There does not live a Protestant who would be half so determined as I should be in throwing them aside from my church. I would scorn to have my church the vassal of the state, or connected with the state. I think such connexion is injurious to the state, and must be detrimental to the church. My opinion may be insignificant; but the Catholic prelates of Ireland have within the last six weeks proclaimed that they would never take one single farthing of public money, or any state endowment whatsoever. (Cheers.) I do not think that there is a greater crime on the face of the earth than that one man should be compelled to pay for the religion of another which he did not believe. Upon that principle, the great oppression of Ireland is the Established Church, and until this system is put an end to it will be in vain to expect tranquillity in lreland. My friends, I wish you had seen the Irish newspapers. A short time since a very respectable gentleman, named Archdeacon De Lacy died. He was the nephew of a Bishop, and according to the advertisement of the sale of his effects, he was an excellent man, he had 11 hunters, an excellent pack of hounds, and a splendid cellar of wine. (Laughter.) But it may be said that these grievances of Ireland are rather speculative than otherwise. I don’t think it will be said that the last is so. It is said, that we may be rich, happy, and contented without these political advantages. But is Ireland rich? That she is not contented is certain – has she a right to be happy ? Allow me to vindicate myself by telling you the real state of Ireland – In 1834, 40 years after the establishment of the union, the Commissioners on the Poor Law Inquiry reported that they found 2,385,000 in a state of destitution upon a population of 8,000,000 more than one fourth of the whole population; and Captain Larkom has reported that 70 per cent. of the rural population were living in huts in one room only – that 30 per cent. of the town population families were living in one room, and in some instances several families in that one room. ( Hear, hear.) Nothing shows greater misery than a decrease in the population. An increase in the population is a favourable sign, but the retrogression of a population of 70,000 a year is a most convincing proof of misery, distress, and wretchedness. Now, just to shows you that what I am stating is correct, I will read you the description of Mr. Kohl, a German, who has been travelling  all over Europe, who has visited Ireland, and lately published a book, in which is the following statement:- I remember, when I saw the poor Lettes in Livonia, I used to pity them for having to live in huts built of the un-hewn logs of trees, the crevices being stopped up with moss. I pitied them on account of their low doors and diminutive windows, and gladly would I have arranged their chimney for them in a more suitable manner. Well, Heaven pardon my ignorance. I knew not that I should ever see a people on whom Almighty God had imposed yet heavier privations. Now that I have seen Ireland, it seems to me that the Lettes, the Esthonians, and the Findianders, lead a life of comparative comfort, and poor Paddy would feel like a king with their houses, their haoilirrents, and their daily fare. (Cheers). A wooden house, with moss to stop up its crevices, would be a palace in the wild regions of Ireland. Paddy’s cabin is built of earth, one shovelful over the other, with a few stones mingled here and there, till the wall is high enough. But perhaps you will say, the roof is thatched or covered with bark. Ay, indeed ! A few sods of grass cut from a neighbouring bog are his only thatch. Well, but a window or two at least, if it be only a pane of glass fixed in the wall, or the bladder of some animal, or a piece of talc. as may often be seen in a Wallachian hut ! What idle luxury were this ! There are thousands of cabins in which not a trace of a window is to be seen. Nothing but a little square hole in front, which doubles the duty of door, window, and chimney – light, smoke, pigs, and children all must pass in and out of the same aperture !  A French author, Beaumont, who had seen the Irish peasant in his cabin, and the North American Indian in his wigwam, has assured us that the savage is better provided for than the poor man in Ireland. Indeed, the question may be raised, whether in the whole world a nation is to be found that is subjected to such physical privations as the peasantry in some parts of Ireland. This fact cannot be placed in too strong a light; for, if it can once be shown that the wretchedness of the Irish population is without a paralell example on the globe, surely every friend of humanity will feel himself called on to reflect whether means may not be found for remedying an evil of so astounding a magnitude !’ (Cheers.)

And, in Ennis, the following statement was made the other day at a meeting, at which Sir Lucius O’Brien presided: – ” At a meeting of the Guardians of the Ennis Poor Law Union on Wednesday, Sir Lucius O’Brien in the chair, Mr. Butler brought forward the resolutions of which he had given notice, relative to the exorbitant amount of Grand Jury Cess now leviable, and which he stated was entirely borne by the occupiers of land. His object in bringing forward the resolutions was, to call attention to, the matter, in the hope that the grievance would be redressed by the introduction of a provision into the grand jury laws, which would render the landlords liable for a moiety of the tax, in the same manner in which they are subject to poor-rates. The chairman and Mr. Carrick supported the landlords, attributing all their misfortunes to bad seasons, failures in the crops, &c. : while Mr. James Mahon, B. Butler, Mr. Finucane, Mr. Knox, and nearly the entire board were of opinion that the major part of the population were in a state of dreadful destitution – that pauperism was frightfully on the increase, and that nothing short of sound remedies should be considered.”   Why do I harrow you with these pictures ? Why ?  for the purpose of calling upon you to exert yourselves in the cause of my unhappy country, and to do all in your power to render her happy once again. Does this misery that I have pictured to you arise from the laziness of the people of Ireland ? No. Do they not travel far and near to obtain work ? Do they not crowd your streets and your villages in hopes of obtaining work ? (Loud cheers.) But then it may be said that Ireland it unproductive. Oh ! no, ’tis one of the greenest and the fairest isles of the globe. (Loud cheers) Its crops are abundant, and its produce magnificent. –(Cheers.) It has the best harbours and the finest estuaries in the world. It has all those advantages – and, added to this, it has in spite of all their misfortunes a cheerful, a gay, laborious and affectionate people. (Cheers.) Then why is it that this misery exists ! From bad government. It is impossible to give any other reason for it. (Great cheering.) Since the union, matters have become worse and worse in Ireland. They have given us a poor law, and that poor law, I will venture to say, will bring rebellion in Ireland if it exists for two years longer. (Hear, hear.). I stood alone in opposing it. I was attacked as hard-hearted for doing so. l said it could be no remedy – that Ireland was too poor for a poor-law. It is literally so, and now the country is breaking up in consequence of it. Let them send me to my dungeon, let them preclude me from intercourse with the people -the consequences will be awful They wait in the expectation that something will yet be done for them. They have learned from me that something may be done for them, and I have told them that he who commits a crime strengthens the enemy – that the only mode of obtaining justice is by being peaceable and quiet. (Cheers.) I have trespassed on you long; but how could I avoid expressing my gratitude and showing you that I deserve at least your good attention, your kindness, and support ? (Cheers.) I have never shrunk from standing by you in any contest, – I have always been at your side – (Cheers) – I have never given a vote that was calculated to Increase the burdens of the English people – (Cheers); but I have invariably supported every measure for the extension of civil and religious liberty. (Cheers.) I have advocated the cause of the slave in America, as well as the peasant in Ireland. I care not what a man’s creed, or caste, or colour may be; no matter, how incompatible with freedom, a southern sun may have burnt upon him – I care not whether the despotism of the Spanish tyrant or of the French mocker of liberty presses on any country, I am for freedom for every man, liberty for all, tyranny for none. (Cheers.) I stood by you in the Reform Bill, I formed one of your majority, and an influential one it was; for others voted with me. It promised much. It was spoiled in its management. Its nursing mothers were unkindly to their foster child. In another struggle for freedom I also joined you. I shall always be with you in giving the protection of the vote by ballot, and for the shortening of the duration of Parliaments, recollecting that short accounts make long friends. (Cheers.) I owe this statement to you; and now I solemnly assure you, that if I was not thoroughly convinced that the establishment of a domestic legislature was essential to the comfort of Ireland, and that it was necessary to keep up the connexion between this country and Ireland, I would advocate it no longer. If I did not apprehend that when I am gone some one else will do that which I never will do, countenance the separation of Ireland from England, I would not struggle for a local legislature. But to say that a local legislature must end in a separation is a mockery. Look at Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Canada, Barbadoes, even Botany Bay. (Cheers.) So that every dependency of England, except Ireland, has a local legislature. We don’t want to check or curb England. What we want is, that the laws, to be obeyed in Ireland, should be made in Ireland. It was so before the union; it will be so again when wise and good men understand the question as I do. And, in the mean time, I ask all to assist us in getting justice for Ireland, and they will draw away the repealing from me. Let us have equal franchises, equal representation, equal corporate reform, equal freedom of conscience from a church to which we do not belong. Let them try the experiment of kindness, and they will soon defeat any plan of further agitation. The life and soul of agitation is the injustice attempted to be done us; to crown which they come out now with a wicked perversion of the law, the scandalous partiality of the judge, the corrupt packing of the jury, and the insulting title of ” convicted conspirators.” (Cheers.) Convicted! convicted in their teeth, the renegades. Renegades who have forsaken every principle – who violently opposed emancipation one year, and carried it the next. (Hear, hear.) There is the renegade Stanley, who was the principal contriver of the Reform Bill in such a manner as to prevent it from working. (Hear, hear.) There is Graham, too, who was first on one side of the house, and now is on the other, and goes to the very extreme of renegadism. (Hear, hear.) These are the real conspirators; and let all those of both countries who wish for rational freedom, those who look for free trade and an unshackled commerce, cheap law, and a relief from the intolerable burden of debt, – let those who desire economical, practical reforms, join with old Ireland. (Cheers.) They will be sure of meeting grateful hearts. We will have no separation, but a perpetual friendship. The union would then, indeed, be rendered valuable by a domestic legislature and by a complete combination of a loyal, contented, and happy people. (The hon. and learned gentleman then retired amidst loud and general cheering.)

The Earl of SHREWSBURY came forward to propose the next toast-” The People.”

He could not tell them how extremely he felt the disadvantage he laboured under, in having so immediately to follow after the eloquent and instructive speech which had been delivered to them by their illustrious guest: but on this, as on other grounds, he felt he should receive what he so much needed, their kindest consideration. (Hear, hear.) The toast which had been assigned to him to propose was that of ” the People,” and in proposing it he was sure that the first idea which presented itself to their minds was the cause of the people of Ireland. That was a great and generous cause, for it was the cause of humanity – the cause of right as opposed to that of wrong. (Cheers.) They had arrived at a new era in the history of that cause, for they had at length embodied in it the sympathies and the feelings of the people of England. (Hear, hear.) The time was when the people of England were foolish enough to imagine that their political rights and their commercial prosperity were distinct from those of Ireland. This delusion had been done away with, and they were now beginning to see that the way to make her own empire secure was to make Ireland her happy, her trusted, and, therefore, her prosperous ally. (Hear, hear.) They now were beginning to find out that the prosperity of England would never be stable and deep-seated – that there never would be security for herself, unless she shared all her privileges and franchises fairly and equally with Ireland. Ireland was now universally acknowledged to be one of the finest countries in the world, but she had been governed by persons blinded by prejudice; and thus her great natural advantages had never been fairly developed. (Cheers.) For, with every natural advantage in a superior degree, the natural resources of Ireland remained unproductive, while the great mass of her population were in a state of misery and destitution unparalleled in any country in Europe. Why should there be this difference between England and Ireland ? It was because England was governed by another law, and in another spirit. We were comparatively happy and prosperous ; they were doomed to poverty and misery; and so it would continue until the people of Ireland enjoyed equal rights and privileges with ourselves. (Hear, hear.) But Ireland must no longer be allowed to fight her battle for justice single-handed. The people of England must come in as a generous or even as an interested auxiliary. (Hear.) Ireland deserved every assistance in her hour of need. She was deprived of half her strength. The liberties of the people had been invaded; the weapon with which the constitution had armed her for the attainment of her rights, and which she had wielded with such astounding effect under the guidance of him whose courage and prowess they were there to commemorate, had been rudely wrested from her grasp. Had Ireland sought to attain her object by the display of physical force, without a just and paramount necessity – he spoke of that sort which came in the spirit of law and order, and he should say of the constitution, for in these days it was necessary to distinguish between legal and constitutional means (Hear) – and had Ireland sought redress by the display of physical strength, without a just necessity for it, she would have exceeded the true prerogative of the people ; but where there was that necessity the people were justified in resorting to those means. Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights were our title-deeds. Yes, when the moral was at hand to guide the physical power of a nation, their union became a duty where their object was to alleviate sorrow and resist injustice (Cheers); but that union was for the present dissolved. Let them not, however, be dismayed. Ireland had gained more than she had lost. She had gained the sympathies of the people of England. Let Ireland then never cease to struggle, though hitherto in vain till she had conquered injustice; ” and,” continued the noble Earl, “may he who is so truly styled the Liberator of his country (cheers) – he who first snapped our bonds asunder, may he live to see Ireland rise from poverty and oppression, and as the reward of his own untiring energy, may he live to see her enjoy the proper fruit of freedom – fair and equal justice, and fair and equal rights with the people of England.” (Loud cheers.)

The toast having been received with cheers.

The Hon. Mr. LANGDALE came forward to acknowledge the toast, and proposed,

” The 78 peers who supported Lord Normanby’s motion, and the 227 members of the House of Commons who supported Lord John Russell’s motion.” He said he felt personally bound to come forward and welcome the Liberator of Ireland on this occasion, because had it not been for the exertions of Mr. O’Connell, he would in all probability have not been now (as a Catholic) entitled to address an assembly of freemen, conscious of an equality of rights and privileges with those whom he addressed. (Hear.) With respect to the late trial, if ever there was an instance in which vengeance seemed to have taken the place of justice, it was on that occasion. However, it was a source of deep consolation that in the Upper House there should have been 78 peers to redeem the character of the House of Lords, among whom were some of the first blood of the land. He knew too how repugnant it was to the feelings of his noble friend (Lord Shrewsbury) to come forward on such a public occasion, but it was gratifying to see the head of the house of Talbot stand forth as be had done tonight on behalf of the insulted rights of his Irish fellow-countrymen. (Hear, hear.)

The CHAIRMAN returned thanks as a member of the House of Commons, and then read letters from the Earl of Radnor and Lord Kinnaird, expressive of their approval of the objects of the meeting.

Lord CAMOYS said he was proud of being one of those 78 Peers who had formed the minority on the occasion referred to. Had not the division taken place so early, the number would have been much augmented. As it was, however, that minority comprised some of the most ancient and patriotic blood in the House of Lords. He (Lord Camoys) was especially bound to be present on this occasion, for to whom was it that he was indebted for being one of that number of 78, but to the eminent individual whom they had that night met to honour. He had come there to express his indignation at those recent proceedings in Ireland which had covered the judicature of that country with contempt. Such things ought not to be allowed to continue; and he trusted that such a demonstration as this, and others which had taken place, and would take place in this country, would totally remove from the public mind that ignorance and prejudice with respect to Ireland without which no power on earth could have induced the people of England to withhold redress of the grievances of Ireland. (Hear, hear.)

Sir R. BULKELEY, M,P., also acknowledged the toast. He felt it to be the duty of every friend of civil and religious liberty to come forward on this occasion. The magnificent assembly of that evening would suffice to assure Mr. O’Connell of the sympathy of the English people, and to convince him of what was the fact, that the interference with the right of trial by jury had thoroughly aroused them, to an extent far beyond any effect that had been produced by all that had been written for many years. As a Protestant he gloried in the revolution of 1688, but far be it from him to wish to perpetuate in Ireland those wrongs for which that settlement was made the pretext. (Cheers.)

The Hon. F. H. BERKELEY M.P., then came forward to propose ” Justice to Ireland”. He could not, however, flatter the meeting, with the hope that justice would come soon, while there was the present overweening majority in the two houses of Parliament. (Hear, hear.) Nor could he say he believed that another election would restore the power to the people. (No.) Nothing would effect that but an extension of the franchise, which was now a mere mockery. There would be no good done until the House of Lords had less to do with the House of Commons, (Hear, hear,) and until the House of Commons had less power over the constituents; until such a day arrived, he despaired of seeing the peopIe of England wishing to assist the people of Ireland in the way their hearts and feelings would prompt them. (Hear, hear)

Mr M.J. O’CONNELL, M.P., begged to acknowledge with pride and gratification the humour they had done his country by the practical pledge of justice to Ireland they had given that night, and on so many former occasions since the late state trials. it was a source of pride and gratification to him to see the people of England throwing off that apathy which seemed to have hung over them, however much they might be inclined to feel for the people of Ireland. It arose, however, from the feeling which always done the people of England humour – the feeling of fair play – the feeling which prompted them to take the part of an injured person at once, without inquiring whether his previous conduct had ‘er had not deserved approbation. (Hear) If there had been alienation, jealousies, and heart-burnings between the two people, he hoped they would now close on both sides. (Hear.) They might differ as to what justice to Ireland consisted in, but they were all agreed that there must be an identity of rights and privileges between the people of the two countries. (Cheers.)

MR GISBOURNE M.P., rose to propose the next toast. He had said to a member in the house that evening that he was coming to this dinner. “Oh,” said he “then you are going to a dinner given to a Repealer, and presided over by a Chartist,” to which he (Mr Gisborne) replied, “ that if the chairman believed in witchcraft, and the guest was a believer in mesmerism, it would not deter him from going for his object was to do honour to Mr O’Connell, and to express the deep conviction he felt, after having heard the nine nights’ debate in the House of Commons, that the late trials in Ireland had been a tyranny perpetrated under the form of law. He desired to express most emphatically his detestation of the whole course of the proceedings. “(Cheers.) The hon. member proposed “Trial by jury, without fraud.” (Cheers.)

Mr. Serjeant Murphy acknowledged the toast.

The health of the ladies having  been drunk,

The Chairman’s health was pronosed by Mr. O’Connell,.

The Chairman returned thanks, and

The company separated at a few minutes to 12 o’clock.

Originally  from The Times, on Wednesday 13th March, 1844. This was reprinted in The Morning Chronicle in Sydney, NSW, on Wed 10th July, 1844,  on Page 1, and I imagine a lot of other papers around the world.

The family go to see Daniel O’Connell at Convent Garden in 1844

Alright quite distant family.

This is mostly an extract from the biography of Sister Mary of St. Philip published in 1920. Sister Mary of St. Philip [Fanny Lescher (1825 – 1904)] spent almost fifty years running the Teacher Training College at Mount Pleasant in Liverpool. She seems to have been a formidable woman as this quote from her obituary indicates: “She is a woman,” said Sir Francis Sandford, then Secretary of the Education Department, “who might fearlessly place her hand even on the helm of the State.”. But what is fascinating in the biography, compiled from letters, diaries, and her papers, is a picture of wealthy English Catholic life between 1830 and the mid-1850’s.  Fanny Lescher is the niece of 3x great grandmother Harriet Grehan, and Fanny Grehan is a 3x great-aunt [the wife of Paddy Grehan III]. The Fannys are second cousins to each other. This is a companion piece to the ” King Dan’s speech- Convent Garden 13 March 1844″ post.

Daniel O’Connell

Both Fanny and young Mrs. Grehan had deep reverence and esteem for Daniel O’Connell. The proudest page in Fanny Grehan’s album was that on which the Liberator had inscribed his appreciation of Miss Agnew’s novel, Geraldine. Mrs. Grehan’s first son was born just at the time of the great blow struck at the Repeal agitation when the monster meeting at Clontarf was proclaimed.[1843]  A little later Fanny Lescher writes to her that O’Connell himself is in gaol. 

When in the following year O’Connell came to London to protest against the political trials, Mr. Lescher took his eldest daughter to hear him speak at the Anti-Corn Law League. A few days later a dinner was given to the great man in Covent Garden theatre. Caroleen Pitchford notes the event in her diary:

“ Mamma , Catherine, Cousin Caroline, Fanny (Lescher), Annie (Lescher), and myself were in the dress circle. We had capital places and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There were glee- singers, and a fine band playing Irish airs. When that dear holy man’s health was proposed by the Chairman there was tremendous enthusiasm. I shall never forget the cheering — the gentlemen hurrahing, and the ladies waving handkerchiefs till it was like a snowstorm. O’Connell’s speech was beautiful, in some parts quite affecting. He is looking, I think, rather careworn. Cousin William (Lescher) had the honour of being introduced, and shaking hands with him. It was a delightful evening. Long life to blessed Daniel O’Connell, ‘ the convicted conspirator,’ as he calls himself.”

The Interior of the second Theatre Royal, Convent Garden. It was built in 1810, and burnt down in 1856.

Fanny Lescher is the niece of 3x great grandmother Harriet Grehan (neé Lescher), and Fanny Grehan is a 3x great-aunt [the wife of Paddy Grehan III]. The Fannys are second cousins to each other.

Caroleen Pitchford, the author of the diary is a second cousin of Fanny Lescher, and Catherine (Kate Pitchford) is her sister.

Mamma is Susan Pitchford (neé Nyren) whose grandfather Richard “Dick” Nyren (c. 1734–1797) was one of the earliest professional cricketers playing first-class cricket during the 1760s and 1770s at the Hambledon Club.

Annie (Lescher) is Fanny’s younger sister who also became a nun. Annie and Kate Pitchford were at school together

Cousin William (Lescher) is Fanny and Annie’s father, and when he was widowed in 1836, at the age of 37, his unmarried sister, Caroline (Cousin Caroline) took charge of the household. She stayed with the family until 1848 when she left to join the Benedictine convent in Winchester.

Daniel O’Connell to the Electors of the County of Cork 6th July 1841

This is part of a series of posts about the 1841 election rather specifically from an Irish perspective. At the time the letter was written Daniel O’Connell was standing for election as an M.P. in Dublin City. Things changed six days later. Roche and Barry” are Edmond Burke Roche, and Garrett Standish Barry. Barry was the first Catholic MP elected to represent Cork County after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, and was elected in 1832. Roche was elected in 1837.  Edmond Burke Roche also has the distinction of being Prince Harry’s great, great, great grandfather.


Dublin, 6th July, 1841.

” Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow ?”


We have arrived at the most important crisis in the affairs of Ireland. The liberty and the religion of the Irish people are at stake. The question is, whether the Orange miscreants, who have so long plundered our country, and persecuted our people, are to trample upon us again—to outrage our venerated clergy, and to inflict the virulent hostility of their blasphemous scurrility upon the most sacred rites of the Catholic religion.

I am convinced that not one liberal Protestant in the county of Cork will refuse to vote for Roche and Barry. I am convinced that not one Catholic will vote against Roche and Barry. In fact, the Catholic who does not vote for Roche and Barry is a traitor to his country, and a renegade to his religion. 

Remember, my friends, that the exterminators have openly avowed themselves. And, although, as in this city, they have felt it prudent to qualify the bitterness of their hostility to the Catholics, yet their designs of destruction are sufficiently manifest, even from the equivocal language which they now choose to employ, instead of an open declaration of vengeance.

There is no scheme too vile — no misrepresentation too atrocious — no cunning trick too dirty or too false — for the Orange Tories of your county to make use of, in order to delude or deceive the people to their own destruction.

Amongst other dirty tricks, the Orange faction in your county have asserted that the ministerial plan on the subject of the cornlaws would be injurious to the farmers. I wish you to understand this subject as well as I do. The ministerial plan which Mr. Roche supports, and which I support, is a fixed duty of eight shillings per quarter upon wheat ; and so in proportion upon other grain.

Now, attend to me, I beg of you, my fellow-countrymen. You know me I never deceived you nor any of you : and I tell you distinctly and emphatically, that of all the plans respecting the cornlaws, the ministerial plan of a fixed duty, which both Roche and Barry will support, is the very best for the farmer ! It is so for this reason ; that at present, rents are charged upon the farmers according to the highest prices that corn can bring ; and a speculation takes place respecting rents, in which, as you well know, the landlords have always the best of it.

The fixed duty gives, on the contrary, a fixed and steady rule of price for corn, and therefore a fixed criterion for rent ; thus giving to the farmer the surplus profits when the corn produces a price higher than in ordinary years..

I am bound to add, that after having investigated this subject with all the care and attention due to it from me, whose great object is the good of all the people—the good of the farmers when it varies from that of the aristocracy or landlords, I am thoroughly and conscientiously convinced that the best plan for all the farmers would be the total abolition of the corn-laws.

But that is not the question at present. The present question lies altogether between the plan of a sliding scale of corn duties and the plan of a fixed duty. This latter is the plan which Lord John Russell and his friends—including Messrs. Barry and Roche—will support.

Remember, my dear friends, that I, who, by counselling the people right, extorted emancipation, and put down Protestant ascendancy, in despite of the Orange aristocrats and landlords, who would now deceive and delude you on the subject of the corn-laws—remember, I say, that I, whom you have honoured with the name of the Liberator,—remember, that I tell you that the plan of a fixed duty, which both Roche and Barry support, is infinitely preferable for the farmers, than the sliding and slippery scale with which Leader and the Orange landlords endeavour to gull and deceive you.

As to Leader [Nicholas Leader, one of the Tory candidates.] himself, he is by birth and fortune a gentleman. If he remained quiet, nobody would refuse to admit him to be such. But in politics he is a shabby and despicable fellow. I knew him when he commenced his political career, and he came out not only a Liberal but really as a Radical ; and he is now endeavouring to represent the county of Cork at the head of all the Orange enemies of the people. Say to him, honest men of the county of Cork, “Shame upon thee, Leader! Shame, where is thy blush?”

Whoever votes for Leader, or for any man of his principles, votes for the extermination of Catholicity ; for the Orange Tories—for the haters of Ireland and the Irish—for the revilers of our clergy—for the blasphemers of our religion Those who refuse to vote for Barry and Roche are equally despicable traitors. They are to be loathed and shunned by every honest man.

Those who vote for Barry and Roche vote for the Queen and her ministers ;—for old Ireland and freedom;—for religion and liberty.

Recollect that the faction to which Leader has now attached himself is that which, by the most atrocious treachery, enacted the penal laws against the Catholics ; which set the same price—that is, £5.—upon the head of a wolf and the head of a priest ; which proscribed Catholic education ; which would still employ education for the purposes of trickery and exclusive proselytism.

Leader’s faction is the faction that has proclaimed in the city of Dublin the uprooting of Catholicity ; which seeks the restoration of Protestant ascendancy and Orange domination.

Leader’s faction call your priests ” surpliced ruffians “ and ” anointed vagabonds.”

Leader’s faction call the holy sacrifice of the mass ” mummery.” They call the Catholic religion an “abject superstition” and a “vile idolatry.”

Liberal Protestants of the county of Cork—and you especially, Catholic electors—shall there be found amongst you any man so thoroughly a traitor and a renegade as to give a single vote to Leader, or to the faction to which he belongs ?

Will any of you refuse to vote against the Orange faction, and in favour of my excellent and beloved friend, Edmund Roche, and of his esteemed colleague, Standish Barry ?

Let every man, then, who confides in me, who is ready to take my honest advice—let every liberal Protestant, and let every conscientious Catholic, vote for the religious liberty of Old Ireland.

That is let him record his vote for Roche and Barry.

I am, beloved countrymen, your faithful and devoted servant,


A Memoir  Of The Late Madame O’Conor Don – 1829. Another Skeffy Tale

This is the full text of the Memoir  Of The Late Madame O’Conor Don” part of “The Recollections Of Skeffington Gibbon, From 1796 To The Present Year, 1829;” .  It’s very long, extremely bitchy, almost certainly libellous, point-scoring in the extreme, and hilarious. It does help having a few things explained in advance of the story.

The O’Conors are an Irish princely and noble family of Gaelic origin who were the historic Kings of Connacht and the last High Kings of Ireland before the Norman invasion in 1171. The O’Conor Don is the head of the clan or sept.  The High Kings of Ireland were elected rather than simply following a line of succession, but there is a direct male line of succession from Roderic or Rory O’Conor, (Ruaidhri Ua Conchubair) who died 1198, right down to the present day.

and to help a little a description of some of the main characters

  • Catherine Lavinia O’ Conor Don, (neé Kelly) is the subject of the memoir, described as “of the manor of Cloonalis, in the County of Roscommon “, and elsewhere as ” the superannuated Queen of the great O’Conor Don, of Cloonalis Castle, in the County of Roscommon.”  She is the wife of a 4th cousin 1x removed of a husband of a 5th great-aunt.
  • Dominick O’Conor Don, who died in August, 1798, Catherine’s husband
  • Alexander  (Sandy) O’Conor Don died 1820, her brother-in-law, he succeeded to the title on his brother’s death
  • Owen O’Conor Don (1763 – 1831) was briefly M.P. for Roscommon following Catholic Emancipation. He succeeded to the O’Conor Don title and estates, following the death of Sandy O’Conor. He was Dominick and Sandy’s fourth cousin, and Patrick Grehan Senior’s brother-in-law.
  • William French Kelly, Esq, a Roscommon lawyer, and coroner. Subject of a hilarious hatchet-job by Skeffy.
  • Various members of the Dillon family are mentioned. The Lord Dillon referred to was Charles Dillon-Lee, 12th Viscount Dillon, (1745 –1813). Lieutenant Dillon was his eldest son, the Hon. Augustus Dillon who managed to combine commanding the 101st Regular Regiment, which his father had founded, with being the M.P. for Mayo. 


The noble ruin of the house of O’Conor Don, called Ballintober, is within two miles of Ballymoe : the remains of its former greatness are, four ruinous, dark, and dismal-looking castles, built in the ninth century. These castles were fortified by a very strong wall, about forty feet high and eight feet broad, surrounded with a deep dyke, which, in former days, retained some depth of water. The only entrance into these castles was a small narrow gate, with a recess on each side for a sentinel, and one or two spike holes looking in different direction ; and on the storey over this was a strong set-off, with open gutters, from which boiling-water or lead was poured on such as came on hostile messages to assail the inmates. It was impossible to take this castle of the O’Conors by surprise, unless treachery were carried on by those intrusted with the protection of the palace and garrison. Previous to this castle being built, the royal residence was on the beautiful plains of Rathcroughan, from which the Connaught Kings got the appellation, according to the Irish language, of Reigh-Croughan.

In those days the monarchs were annually elected, as we do now-a-days Sir William Blink, or Bradley King, chief magistrates: so that the O’Neills, the O’Donnells, the O’Moores, the O’Haras, the O’Rourkes, and such other nobles of the island as offered themselves as candidates, were crowned, according to the choice of the people — which choice should be confirmed by the clergy, and the chosen anointed with holy oil, and crowned by the Archbishop of the diocese in which the election took place.

In later days, when Druidism was annihilated, and the Catholic Church, with all its magnificent splendour, established on its Pagan ruins, few were elected save those distinguished for their piety, magnanimity, and warlike valour in the field of battle. These virtues and great endowments were predominant in the illustrious sons and lineal heirs of O’Conor, which caused their return and perpetual election for two centuries previous to Henry the Second of England assuming any authority in this kingdom. During the Vice-royship of the Virgin Queen’s gallant commander,

Walter Devereux, he was raised to the peerage for signal services and graces special — thereby wrenching from the heirs of the ancient and noble family of the De Veres, the title of Earls of Essex : like the titles taken from the Talbots, the O’Briens of Clare, the Clancarthys, and a thousand others I could name in our own times.

However, in the words of the virtuous and lamented Mrs. O’ Noodle, of Doodle-do-hall, in her mild remarks on the castle-rack-rents, and the castle-all-spents of the notorious year, not of Grace, but of the auction year of 1800, several mighty titles, never before heard of, and then got up, she says, are vanishing with the memory of such revered worthies (as many of them have paid the debt of nature), and their sacred shrine is mouldering in the same grave with the Newalls, the Hempenstals, and the Jemmy O’Briens of their day. —

However, to return to the house of O’Conor : Lord Essex deprived them of the patronage of the church in this province, except one or two convents situated in their own private patrimony. Amongst these was the beautiful abbey of Cloonshanville, Kilteevin, Ballintober, and Tulsk ; but in the days of Oliver Cromwell, both the O’Conors of Strokestown and Ballintober suffered much tribulation, and were stripped of all their property except that miserable mountainous remnant given to the widow of Roderick O’Conor, who was beheaded at his own door, at Castlerea, and his wide domains given to a Cromwellian soldier of the name of Sandford, ancestor to that unfortunate young man who was cruelly murdered at Windsor, in Berkshire, a few months ago.

Roderick O’Conor,[This was actually General Daniel O’Conor who died in 1667] the last of that family who inherited the estates of Castlerea, in this neighbourhood, married the Lady Anne Birmingham of the illustrious house of Athenry, in the principality of Galway, by whom he had one son [Andrew O’Conor] , in whose person the direct line of royalty was preserved — and who, with his mother, lived in a wretched hut in a mean village called Screglahan, or Cloonalis, a short distance from Castlerea, Andrew O’Conor] married contrary to the wishes of his mother, Honora, the sister of Luke Dowell, Esq. of Mantue, near Elphin. This lady built the family residence now standing;  she was the mother of Daniel O’Conor Don, who married the daughter of an apothecary in Dublin of the name of Ryan. Though I mention Mr. Ryan as undoubtedly a match much below the O’Conors, yet I must say he was highly connected with the grandsons of Sir Thomas Cusack of Meath, and- a respectable old family of the Nangles, who were murdered some years ago in the vicinity of Mullingar — which circumstance must be still in the recollection of many of my readers.

The late Dominick O’Conor, who died in August, 1798, was the eldest son by this marriage. He married the highly accomplished Miss Kelly, the eldest daughter of Robert Dillon O’Kelly, Esquire, of Lisnanean, or Springforth, near Strokestown, by whom he had no issue. Mr. O’Kelly had two daughters, co-heiresses : the eldest, as I have observed, married Dominick O’Conor Don of Cloonalis House, and the second eloped from the house of Cargins, (where she was on a visit,) with an attorney of the name of Nolan, from the neighbourhood of Tuam. No union could give more happiness to all parties than that of O’Conor Don with Miss O’Kelly, both claiming an equal alliance — he from the ancient princes of the island, the O’Conors ; and his lovely consort, paternally, from the great O’Kelly of Mullaghmore Castle, connected by marriage with the noble house of O ‘Moore — her maternal kindred those of the O’Briens, princes of Clare and Thomond, O’Conor Roe of Strokestown Castle, Lady Judith Dillon, the elder sister of James Wentworth Earl of Roscommon, and her mother. Miss Dillon of Lung, maternally allied to the Brabazons of Newpark, in Mayo, and the Talbots of Belgard Castle, in the County of Dublin.

Nothing was wanting but an heir to entwine the happy pair in every blessing — to enjoy the estate of Cloonalis, and a moiety of the Kelly estate near Tulsk ; however, God did not grant their desire in favouring the illustrious and fond pair with issue ; but from their piety and great urbanity, having always company and relieving the distresses of their fellow-creatures, no matter what their creed or what unknown country gave them birth, they were much admired.

Sheriff Sandes, in his days of poverty, partook of their munificence, as well as the Catholic Bishop, Doctor French of Foxborough, in his exile from Williamite persecution. Such amiable and cemented felicity never could be surpassed, said Mrs. Dillon, between man and wife, as I have witnessed with Madame O’Conor and her husband for upwards of twenty years that they lived together. O’Conor Don died at his country seat (I think) in August, 1798, and his respected relict in February, 1814, at her lodgings in Mary-street, in the City of Dublin. At his death, in addition to the rents annually arising from her moiety of the small patrimony of Springforth, to which she became entitled on the death of her father, her husband (O’Conor Don) left her as a token of his esteem fifty pounds annually, to be levied off the estate of Cloonalis ; besides, he made her over the lease of a house and about sixty acres of a handsome demesne on the immediate banks of the copious River Suc or Suck : it is the first residence on the banks of this great inland river, which takes its source and bursts most magnificently from beneath a peak or huge sand-bank in the rustic but rural village of Cloonsuck, at which place the estates of O’Conor Don, Viscount Dillon, Baron Mount- Sandford, Sir William Brabazon of Newpark, Arthur French, M.P., and Mr. Wills of Willsgrove, in this county, almost come in contact with each other.

This miserable dowry her old brother-in-law, the late Alexander O’Conor, refused to pay her, which, unfortunately for the heir presumptive, (the present popular and justly-esteemed O’Conor Don of Ballinagare,) [ great uncle Owen ] caused a long and protracted litigation between the parties, which amounted, in family incumbrances, legacies, and law expenses, to no less a sum than ten thousand pounds. The property was put up for sale at the Royal Exchange, in the City of Dublin ; and from what I understood no bidder was allowed to offer against the heir-at-law, Mr. Owen O’Conor, who undoubtedly was treated unkindly by his kinsman, Sandy O’Conor; indeed Madame O’Conor Don did not (or at least her base-minded advisers) escape the just censure of the public for the exorbitant expenses heaped upon a man, who, as his birth-right, was to have inherited the property on the demise of two aged bachelors, Sandy and Thomas O’Conor, men of high and noble birth, but from their eccentric, secluded, pecuniary difficulties and habits, hardly known beyond the walls of the smoky and despicable hovels in which they lived, and died a few years back. The stipulation at the sale, as has been before observed, was, that any person bidding against the heir-at-law was to pay five hundred pounds. This small barrier, however, did not prevent the late Henry Moore Sandford, Esq. of Castlerea, from bidding. He also joined the auction of 1800, for which he was created Baron Mount-Sandford, of Castlerea, in the County of Roscommon, which title, on the death of an old veteran of seventy-eight, sinks into the same grave of extinction with the Castlecootes, the Lecales, and many other of those worthies who have departed this life, without leaving so much as an heir to inherit the sinecures, useless stations, and biblical knowledge which they prodigally lavished and diffused amongst their starving and ragged tenantry. The long catalogue of their munificence — for who could sully their revered memories ? — I leave to more able and efficient biographers, who have more time, and I am sure more money, than I have, to describe.

After Lord Mount-Sandford lost his five hundred pounds in bidding against Mr. Owen O’Conor, who had his purse-bearer (Long Terence — or, what do I say ? — Long Jack Farrell, the Connaught Jew,) at his elbow, he became the purchaser of that part of Cloonalis, and the remainder of that estate is in his possession at the present time ; and which, were it not for the wanton and useless litigation that his enemies carried on to incur expense, might have come into his possession without one farthing expense, which was the intention of Daniel and his heir Dominick O’Conor, Esqrs., when they willed the reversion of those estates to their kinsman, the heirs of the ancient and romantic Ballinagare — a patrimony in the possession of that family for upwards of one thousand years ; and forsooth, that great pillar of new-lightism, Lord Lorton, in his sacred crusades, at a Brunswick Meeting, [the Brunswick Clubs were part of a campaign to deny Catholics the right to enter both houses of the British parliament. Numbering roughly 200 clubs and claiming 150,000 members between September 1828 and December 1829.]  not many months back, was at no small loss, in his address to his brethren in piety, the Kilmains, the Clancarthys, the Farnhams, and the Gideon Ouseleys, to know (from his recent assumption or obscurity, as we must suppose,) who this rigid Papist (the O’Conor Don) was.

Strange times ! — how they are altered ! — a ruler in the county, and not know O’Conor Don. If those zealots had the modesty to look over their own pedigree — surely if not led on by some infatuation in diffusing those acrimonious discords under the semblance of enforcing religious knowledge upon the natives, suppressing the further growth of Popery, and propagating those disgraceful litigations that brought some of his Lordship’s auditors into great celebrity — they would find that O’Conor Don’s family had an inheritance in that county many centuries previous to the barbarous and merciless usurpation that unexpectedly threw the ancient patrimony of the magnificent Abbey of Boyle, and the other manors wrenched from the noble house of Coolavin, into the possession of his ancestors, now-a-days called the Kingston estates, in the County of Roscommon.

“After the lamented death of my husband,” said Catherine O’Conor Don,” I was forced out of my own house by Mr. James Hughes, to go on a visit to his family to a grand mansion, newly built, in the village of Ballaghaderreen, in Mayo.” “This Mr. Hughes,” added she, “ was my maternal kinsman, as one of the Miss Dillons of Lung, in an unguarded hour, eloped with his father, a struggling shopkeeper, from some part of Leitrim. “

However, though some time elapsed before this uncontrolable daughter was noticed by the Dillon family, they grew into opulence by their industry, and that was no small inducement in forgiving the imprudent alliance that some daughters frequently make to the great annoyance of their more respectable families. “ I did go to Mr. and Mrs. Hughes’s, “ said she, “ and only intended to stop a few days ; but, to my misfortune, I stopped there too long; I lent money which I never got back, and was dreadfully annoyed before I got out of their clutches. I blame Viscount Dillon for many of my misfortunes : he was left my guardian and protector, and chief executor in my husband’s will. He left the kingdom ; and, like many others of the nobility, became an absentee.”

On the death of the Honourable Miss Phibbs, who was the daughter of Lord Mulgrave, of Yorkshire, Lord Dillon married an actress of the Opera-House in London, by whom he had a second family. He took a house in Fitzroy-square, and from that period I never saw him till the autumn before he died. In the year 1813 he visited this country, merely to make new leases to his tenantry, where death, with that unkindness with which he assailed the immortal Sir John Calf, took him by surprise. Viscount Dillon was determined, like other people of fashion, to die in London, where he could be interred with that dignity and pomp due to his great ancestors ; but subtle death, more rogueish than a fox, took him in the mountains of Mayo, and put an end to his pious existence. His Lordship’s remains were deposited, in a wooden chest, in the Popish Abbey of Ballyhaunis, from which his splendid coffin was stolen by some neighbouring rustics, who took the mock-mounting to be pure gold. This incensed the Dowager in Fitzroy-square so much against the Irish paupers in St. Giles’s, that instead of twopence to each applicant at the great feasts at Christmas and Easter, the vulgar souls, called the Connaughtonians, only got one half- penny as Amen money.

“When I found my money,” says Madame O’Conor Don, “ expended at James Hughes’s, I came to live on my own estate near Strokestown, where I was haunted by my good nephew, Bob Nolan, and a priest called Father Bryan, There was no man so fond of making money by land and cattle-jobbing than the gay Father Bryan.” “ My life,” says she, “ was spared, but I was plucked of every thing portable. How things went on in the under part of the house I cannot say, as Bob Nolan managed as he thought proper; but one thing I do know, that I was continually tormented with vulgar and intrusive visitors. Father James Kelly and his niece chiefly lived in the house ; and a thousand others came daily, who represented themselves as being allied to me either by my father or mother. “ These are the comforts of an aged and lone gentlewoman, in the remote districts of Connaught — continually tormented by a gang of itinerant applicants and a group of naked paupers, each and every one addressing you as your cousin Kit, or your kinsman Pat. “ From this you will see I was heartily sick of the country ; but wait a little and you will feel for me,” says this excellent and much persecuted woman, in a letter to a friend in Dublin : —

“ In my old age and unhappy widowhood I put myself under the protection of my ungrateful nephew, Robert Nolan; but he changed his mind, and told me he had a wish to go into the army, and join a new regiment, called the 101st, under the command of the Honourable Augustus Dillon, then Member of Parliament for the County of Mayo. To this I gave my assent, and what pecuniary aid I could conveniently spare at the time. He mentioned to me a few days previous to his going off to Hull, in Yorkshire, which was the depot or head-quarters of the regiment, that he hoped I would not forget him in my will : I answered, from the many deceptions I met with since the death of my husband, that I should not hold myself responsible, by any promise or engagement ; that any friendship in my intentions or reminiscences at my death, depended solely on his own good conduct. “

“Well, then, Madame,” says he, “ will you resign your claim to the MacGuire estate in Sliverbane to me? “: I answered, “ Yes. “

Accordingly, he sent for a neighbouring quack Doctor, who sometimes performed the duties of a village schoolmaster, of the name of James M’Dermott, an expert writer. “A deed,“ adds she, “ as I thought to the purpose I intended, was written ; but it seems the gentry combined, and had two deeds. The mock document was read to me one night after dinner ; but what did I get to sign, while I was adjusting my spectacles, but a deed which conveyed all my real and personal estate, goods, chattels, plate, moveables, &c. &c., after I departed this life, to Robert Nolan, his heirs and assigns.”   This false document was witnessed by an honest party that Bob Nolan selected, by special invitation, on the occasion, which was Mr. Anthony Dillon, a kinsman, and an ensign in the same regiment ; Fergus O’Beirne, a shop-keeper in the old rotten borough of Tulsk ; and Mr. James M’Dermott, who, from being a bleeding doctor, became an attorney-at-law.

The morning after, it seems, this precious and roguish parchment was sold to a neighbouring pawn-browker, or money-lender, of the name of Jack Farrell, who, as that voracious class of persons always assert,advanced the uttermost farthing; which, on the whole, was only a few hundred pounds, of which young Nolan was in need to equip him for the regiment, previous to their going to Canada. “Thus,” says this unfortunate old lady, “ in the 78th year of my age, was I plunged in law with Jack Farrell, a man of low birth, who in his early days kept a chandler’s shop in the very neighbourhood in which I was born.”  “ Had Mr, John Farrell, “ adds she, “ when in negotiation with my nephew, come to me, I would have satisfied him instantly with respect to the fraud carried on, to the no small injury of both parties. “

This litigation was brought to a record in the Court-house of Roscommon in (I think) 1812, on which occasion Lieutenant Dillon, to his great annoyance, was summoned from Halifax to attend, which, by order of his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, he was obliged to obey. Mr. Dillon, after giving his evidence with brevity, and indeed integrity, was most unmercifully assailed in the cross- examination by Mr. Farrell’s bar of lawyers;  nor was he treated by those of his kinswoman, Madame O’Conor Don, with less clemency, for, notwithstanding all his trouble and expense, he never received so much as one sixpence — although he was threatened with dismissal from the service in a few months afterwards, and that in the most unjustifiable manner.

Most of my readers must recollect the sanguinary duel that took place in the autumn of 1813, in the Isle of Wight, between Lieutenants Maguire and Blundell, wherein the unfortunate Mr. Blundell, who was only a few days married, was mortally wounded ; and, strange to say, Mr. Dillon, who neither aided nor assisted, was thrown into prison for four months for not preventing the duel, as being the highest in authority in the garrison at the time. I have known several duels to take place, but I never knew an instance where any of the parties concerned suffered so much, and that so unjustly, as Mr. Dillon. All these unexpected misfortunes he suffered solely on account of Mr. Nolan’s deed of sale to Mr. Farrell. “ So help me God,” said this worthy young gentleman when I saw him in London in 1810, “ had I known that I was to endure, so much trouble and misfortune when I parted the regiment in Halifax, I would have committed suicide on leaving that hospitable and charming country. “

Mrs. Mary Davis of Castlerea, in her youthful days the beautiful and accomplished Miss Dillon of Bracklon, was cross-examined by Mr. Farrell’s lawyers in a manner that excited her feelings so much, that she was obliged to be carried out of Court — particularly on some letters that she wrote, perhaps carelessly, to Mr. Nolan, (previous to his joining the army,) being read. In one of those letters, it seems that Mr. Nolan got a pressing invitation to come to the chamber of a married lady. They may be false ; perhaps Mrs. Davis never wrote such a letter ; however, as the lady which this letter alluded to is I hope in a better world — for the sake of the family with whom she was connected, and not for her own, as in many respects they were a disgrace to society — I forbear commenting upon the disgraceful conduct and execration of such unpardonable levity in either of the females.

Much to the credit of Mr. Fergus O’Beirne, when examined on this great trial he confessed that he was aware, previous to his putting his signature to the fraudulent document, of Mr. Nolan’s intentions to impose on his aunt, with no other view than to obtain money from Mr. Farrell to purchase uniform and other requisites, in order to make that appearance in the regiment his rank as a gentleman and an officer required. Madame O’Conor, I may say, gained the suit, but not without great expense, and losing the small townland of Cloonart, near Tulsk, which was awarded to John Farrell, in lieu of the money he advanced.

Unquestionably, the whole transaction was a gross fraud upon an old lady, whose life, from the day of her husband’s death till the moment of her own happy release from this earthly vale of misery and voraciousness, was nothing but a scene of litigation, fraud, and exorbitant exactions; she was often assailed by many of her needy and remote kindred by the most virulent, unjustifiable, and acrimonious insolence that ever fell from the lips of a foul-mouthed Billingsgate — even the attention of her own cousin, Tom Dillon of Belgard Castle, did not escape their censure; and a most daring ruffian, the son of a pedagogue called Jack- of-the-Wall, from near Loughrea, who married an ideot of the name of French, and getting to be a hackney quill-driver in an attorney’s office, called himself no less a personage than William French Kelly, Esq., had the audacity to write her a most insulting letter, couched in language too obscene to meet the public eye. This Kelly married a sort of a milliner of the name of Davis, who in her early days was bound apprentice in Dublin, chiefly through the bounty of the benevolent Madame O’Conor and some other friends — though (said Madame O’C.) I never laid my eyes on this fine woman till, at the solicitation of my maid, after repeated calls at my lodgings in Dorset-street for assistance, I ordered her to be shewn to the back-drawing-room, to hear what she had to communicate. She said so much, about her kindred with the Dillons, Plunketts, Beggs, and her Cromwellian cousins, the Davises of Cloonshanville, that it would puzzle a public reporter to get at either ends of her discourse.

“ The atrocities of her ancestors,” said the Connaught Queen, “ in the Abbey of Cloonshanville, in putting the inmates to the last torture, and demolishing the noble edifice to that ruinous state in which it appears as you pass the French- Park road, is still fresh in the minds of the natives of that county. Was I not a credulous and a weak woman to believe her ? What good could be expected from the progeny of such persecuting ancestors, who slew the priests of the most High God, while in the very act of offering the sacrifice of the sacred and holy Eucharist in the sanctuary raised by the voluntary contributions of the people? “

“ They got, “ added she, “ the spoils and ransacking of the church — that church God ordained to be the house of prayer, but which those despoilers turned into a den of thieves. But where are they now? Have they not vanished, and the ill-gotten fruits of their oppression gone into strange hands ? “

Nothing remains of the great bulwark of the Cromwellian greatness but an old thatched hovel, with its mossy and weather-beaten end close by the road side ; its front, which is adorned with two small windows, overlooks this old demolished convent, which is the depository of all that was mortal of those brigands who espoused the cause of that fanaticism of which the humane usurper himself was the high priest. The noble ruin of Cloonshanville, which has sternly outlived the various vicissitudes and persecutions of many ages, deserves no mean pre-eminence amongst the collections compiled by a celebrated author, which he designates as The Antiquities of Ireland.

“ But, pardon me, “ said this excellent woman, “ for following Mrs. Margaret Davis, or Kelly, not into the Convent of St. Denis, but Cloonshanville. Here I leave her,” added she, “ among the bogs of Loughbally, and return to the eminent rogue — not lawyer — her husband, who tormented me with petitions and recommendations of his integrity and fidelity; and if I employed him in any situation as deputy agent, or to look over some papers that a person of the name of Leonard, an attorney, left unsettled at the time of his death, which was premature and sudden, many of them would be returned without being settled. “  This is the case (in general) with many of those honest persons ; and, according to the recent confession of old superannuated Lord Eldon, thousands of them profess to be lawyers, though their judgment is far from deciding with equity — to the great injury of the public, they fill situations of trust, profit and emolument, which they are by no means competent to fill from their want of legal knowledge.

Poor Mr. French Kelly was the last, I am sure, that should disgrace the list of attorneys’ clerks — for if perjury, open fraud, and the basest forgery that ever was attempted to be put forth as a genuine document, is to be discountenanced, this French Kelly, by his proneness to ardent spirits, spared (in his death) Jack Ketch [an infamous English executioner] the trouble of alarming that clutch of blue pigeons that we see flying on the slapper of Newgate getting a sudden jerk, with many a deserving object : Fauntleroy or Jemmy O’Brien were hood-winked in adroitness of their profession when compared to the heir-presumptive of Jack-of-the-Wall.

“ He and his wife followed me, “ says Madame O’Conor, “ to Strokestown, in the County of Roscommon ; and feeling for their great poverty, I ordered my door to be opened to receive them, not thinking they would have the impudence to stop more than one night. Far from this, however, they soon made themselves masters; and I was only a lodger in the house for which I paid rent and taxes. My servants began to miss some sheeting and table-linen, but previous to any report being made to me of these things, one of my trunks had been broken open, and a large sum of money, which my steward, Francis Bannahan, paid me the day before, taken therefrom, as also some family papers ; which honest Margaret Davis, by way of introducing herself into high life, brought to a gentleman allied to the O’Conors, which he owned to me he had in his possession. Some time after Lady Hartland, and many others in and about Strokestown, took a dislike to visit me, in consequence of this French Kelly and his wife being admitted into my house. “

“ At this time he went to the Most Reverend Doctor Thomas Troy, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, and got £500 in my name. He then got himself sworn an attorney of the Courts of Justice. This,” says she, “ I overlooked, as I did not wish to hang the villain. But will you not be surprised when I tell you, that he furnished me with a bill of costs to the amount of £2000. What he did for it I am at a loss to know, save his attention in the suit against Jack Farrell, for which he was doubly paid before he drove a quill. “ “In this way, “ says she, “ I was tormented, paying one knave to upset the villainy of another. This bill was taxed by Master Ellis, who reduced it to £1500. “

“ My counsel, Mr. Boyd, who afterwards married the brisk widow of the late Earl of Belvedere, recommended me an attorney, whose name was Killikelly, of Middle Gardiner-street, Dublin ; but who was managing clerk to this attorney ? — William Davis, the brother-in-law of French Kelly. The news that passed, of course, reached my enemies ; but between party and party, paying to this one and the other, I was as poor as Job. William Davis introduced himself to me, by saying he would do all in his power to set aside the rogueish intentions of his sister and brother-in-law, if I only gave him my dividend arising from the effects of William Kelly, who kept a flour and whiskey-shop in the town of Strokestown, to whom I lent £500 ;  but on commencing business as a wine-merchant in Gardiner-street, he called a meeting of his creditors, served me with notice of his bankruptcy, and to this moment I have not got so much as one shilling of that sum — nor do I expect it. William Kelly married a Miss Laughing from some part of the King’s or Queen’s County — and a pretty joke it was, for they laughed me out of my £500. “

I have to add, that after Madame O’Conor Don’s death, Mr. Kelly paid Davis the few pounds to which, as a creditor, the deceased lady was entitled. Mr. William Davis was maternally allied to the unhappy woman who, in her old age, was a prey to various annoyances and gross impositions; and to convince his kinswoman of his attachment to her person, Mr. Davis proposed a comfortable lodging, which he considered would suit her. To this the weak woman assented. This was the unfurnished upper part of a house, No. 4 or 6, kept by an attorney of the name of Webber, in Gloucester-place.

We all know that Gloucester-place is situated at the lower end of Gloucester- street, in the City of Dublin, and within one door of the straggling end of Mecklenburg-street ; built on that low swamp, stolen by degrees, and the assiduity of some efficient port-surveyors or civic and turtle Aldermen, from the rolling waves of the ocean. The back of Summer-hill is inundated during the winter months, and the chief part of the spring of the year ; not only this — the front of the house looked into a fulsome pool of stagnated mire, and a common dairy-man’s cow-yard, in which, to add to its diversified and fragrant attractions, was a few amorous and squeaking goats, and one or two vicious and ungovernable donkeys, besides the continual growl of a half starved and filthy watch-dog ; the rear view was somewhat more amusing, and better calculated to enliven and rouse the drooping nerves of a religious, disconsolate, and persecuted old woman of eighty-four. The back drawing-room was metamorphosed into a bed chamber for the accommodation of the superannuated Queen of the great O’Conor Don, of Cloonalis Castle, in the County of Roscommon.

Any person acquainted with the localities of the unfinished end of Gloucester street, know that I do not exaggerate when I say, that the waste space (which forms no enchanting vista) at the back of the few houses in Gloucester-place, is without exception one of the most riotous, obscene, and disorderly districts (except the notorious principality of the Great Mogul, well known in our police reports as Mud-Island,) in the vicinity of the Irish metropolis. A row of filthy huts was joined to the splendid chamber selected for the happy repose of the amiable and highly-accomplished Catherine O’Kelly, the widow of a gentleman by birth, urbanity, and education, with the small patrimony that rapacious edicts, sequestration, proscription, sanguinary revolutions, and rapine left. Here was Madame O’Conor Don lodged by Mr. Davis, who, we might suppose, had no mercenary views, in a neighbourhood such as I have described, surrounded with sweeps, tinkers, and various receptacles for women of ill-fame, who, when the morning star threw light on their abandoned infamy, took refuge in the abominable cells with which Lower Gloucester-street and the vicinity of Aldborough House abounds. O what a neighbourhood selected for the residence of the nominal Irish Queen ! Her guardians, of course, were interested for her longevity, and in supporting her high birth and the dignity due to her illustrious ancestors !

Amongst the list of Madame O’Conor’s relatives and visitors in those obscure lodgings, were the Earl and Countess of Roscommon, Viscount and the Honourable Miss Dillon of Fitzroy-square, who were then in Ireland — the Countess D’Alton Begg of Mount-Dalton, in the County of Westmeath — Lady Mount-Sandford and Miss Oliver — the Catholic Archbishops of Dublin and Tuam — the Catholic Bishops of Elphin and Killala — the Dowager Lady Hartland and the Honourable General Mahon — the Misses Cheevers and Fallon of St. Brandon — Mrs. and Miss Dillon Hearne of Hearnesbrook,. in the County of Galway — the O’Conors of Ballinagare, Mount-Druid, and Tomona — Mrs. Henry French of Cloonequin-House, and Miss Moore — Mrs. and the Misses Grace of Mantua-House — Mrs. Spaight and Mrs. Fairclought of the County of Clare — Mrs. and Miss French of Rocksavage — Mrs. and Miss Dillon of Roebuck — Mrs. O’Shee, Mrs. Colonel O’Moore, Major, Mrs. and Miss Nugent, Mrs. General Taylor, Mrs. Palles, Mrs. O’Moore Farrell of Ballina — Mrs. Nangle, Miss Cusack, Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Hilles, Miss O’Neill, Doctor and Mrs. Harkan, and the Misses Egan — besides her own immediate kindred, the Kellys of Tycoola, Turrock, Cargins, Screggs, and many others — the Lady Crofton of Sligo — Mrs. Mahon of Annaduff — Mrs. Lyster of Newpark, and the Honourable Mrs. Butler, at one time the handsome Miss French of Frenchpark-House, who first married the late Daniel Kelly, of Cargins, Esq., in the County of Roscommon.

I leave the reader to conjecture, if a lady so highly connected and so universally known as Madame O’Conor Don, was not worthy of better treatment from those who solely lived on her bounty ; and what often astonished me, not a soul she ever placed confidence in, from her husband’s death till her own frame yielded to the same fate, but deceived her, with the exception of her last maid, whose name was Bridget Hogan, and a native of Tomona, near Tulsk, in the County of Roscommon. She often told me that her steward (Francis Banahan) and Bridget Hogan were the only friends or domestics that did not deceive her.

“ You may rest assured,” said this humane and benevolent lady, “ that any of my relatives who are in a hurry with my life (thinking that they might gain something by my death), I will live to deceive, with the blessing of God, and I will bequeath my property to charitable purposes.”  Her friends, however, advised her to give up her apartments in Gloucester-place, not only in consequence of the neighbourhood not being as respectable, and the lodgings as genteel, as they wished, but because the wife of William Davis, a woman of the name of Biddy Gibbs, who lived as nursery-maid with Mr. Jones, was continually quarrelling with her mother-in-law, Mrs. Mary Davis, a relation of Madame O’Conor’s, and whom she obliged with a bedchamber at her expense.

Between Mrs. Biddy Gibbs and Mrs. Mary Davis, the house was turned into a jackco-maco-den, or a temporary bear-garden. Indeed, I recollect one inclement snowy night, when poor Mrs. Davis, who was undoubtedly born a gentlewoman and had seen better days, was obliged to run for her life to my own humble fire-side, and remain there for some days, till Mrs. Crean Lynch (of Mayo) and Mrs. Matthew O’Conor advanced her money to take her home. I never heard Mrs. Davis speak unkindly of her son; but her daughter-in-law, Biddy Gibbs, she represented as an imperious, insolent, and litigious woman. “ To expect,” said she, ” that she was a woman of education, would be impossible ; she was a woman of no better pretensions than the generality of those little housemaids that we see giggling about Saunders’s News-Letter office, in Dame-street.” “The agreement,” said Madame O’Conor, “ between William Davis and my landlord, Mr. Webber, (whom I understood to be nephew or kinsman of that opulent stationer, Luke White, of Luttrelstown,) is, that I am to pay him quarterly. The time is coming to a close — send for Gibbon — let him pay him, and take his receipt ; at the same time he may tell the gentleman to let his lodgings at the quarter’s end, as I am going to live in another part of the town. “   I did so accordingly, and got Mr. Webber, who lived in the under part of the house, to give me a receipt; but on telling him of Madame O’Conor’s intentions, he seemed not to relish it much, and made answer in that austere, disrespectful manner that the generality of attorneys are in the habit of doing when they have the profitable end of the bargain in their power : —  I insist. Sir,” said he, “ that your Connaught Madame shall not quit this house till I get a quarter’s rent in advance, as it is my agreement with Mr. Davis, who took the apartments, that I must get a quarter’s rent or three months’ notice. “

What passed between us, on handing Madame the receipt, it was, of course, my duty to mention. The amiable old lady paused a little, and looked stedfastly at a most beautiful and sanctified model of the Messiah and the Virgin Mother, which hung opposite where she was seated on an old fashioned, but rich, sofa, on which she frequently reposed when her frame began to get weak.  “ O, yes, “ said she, “ he must have it — any thing to get shut of the French Kellys and the Davises ; William Davis is at the bottom of that extortion — he and Biddy Gibbs wish to remain here three months longer, rent free; do, Gibbon, pay that Mr. Webb or Webber — the sooner I web away from that gentleman lawyer the better.” She sent me out to look for genteel apartments — but observed, do not let me be gaoled up in a lonesome part of the town, now that my resources (save my annual dowry) are purloined and exhausted at law, endeavouring to protect my life and property against my spurious and knavish kindred — the very worst and most dangerous enemies a man or a woman ever had are their own needy relatives. They affect friendship, but they are dissembling and designing blood-thirsty hypocrites. Have we a stronger instance of it than in that villain Crawley, who was executed here a few years back, and the ” Bloody Bodkins,” who immolated eighteen of their own family, and then set fire to the family mansion.

“ However,” said she, “ poor William Davis, I am sure, would do nothing to injure me.”   I saw lodgings in Upper Dominick-street, at the house (if I don’t mistake) of a Mrs. Collins. We agreed on the rent ; but I told her that I would not take them solely on my own responsibility; if a lady whom I knew, and who was honourably interested for the aged lady who was to occupy them, approved of the agreement, every thing would be adjusted to her advantage. I consequently called on Mrs. Major Nugent, who was the maternal kinswoman of O’Conor Don, and who on every occasion paid the greatest attention to his honourable relict. On being shown to the sitting room where Major, Mrs. and Miss Nugent were seated, after apologising for my intrusion, I imparted the purport of my mission. Mrs. Nugent, with that well-known courtesy and urbanity with which her cultivated and noble mind was endowed, addressed her daughter in the following words : — ” Put on your bonnet, Kitty Nugent, and let us have your opinion of those apartments that Mr. Gibbon is going to take for your kinswoman, Madame O’Conor Don.” Miss Nugent seemed to like the lodgings, but when I made the matter known to the old lady herself, she disapproved of that street, as being too far from Denmark-street Chapel, to which she wished to live as near as she possibly could. In consequence of this we declined Mr. Collins’ house, and took apartments at (I think) No. 40, Mary-street. To this house her furniture was moved in August or September, 1813, and in which she lived until February, 1814, when she suddenly expired.

She was generally attended by the late Doctor Harkan of Sackville-street, but a trifling dispute took place between Madame O’Conor and him about a bill or bond, in which he requested her to join, but she sternly refused. After the Doctor left the drawing-room she sent for me, but I could not be admitted for some time, as Bishop Troy, and Mrs. Hearne of Hearnesbrook, were with her ; however, after they took their leave, her maid mentioned that I was at her command whenever she was pleased to see me. She answered, “ Do let him come in, as I wish to say something to him on business. “ When I entered the drawing-room I was surprised to see her look so well and so full of spirits and vivacity. “ Doctor Harkan,” said she, ” has been here ; you know I esteem him as a man eminent in his profession ; but, let me tell you, I never sent for him without paying him : as to put my hand to paper for him or any other person I never will— I got enough of that work while lodging at James Hughes’s. Great as I respect him, and indeed he is a worthy man, I will not condescend to any such thing.” Hearing some company coming up stairs, I walked into the back drawing-room and did not see her for two or three days after, when I was sent for to order some wine from Mr. O’Connor of Cook-street. When I entered the room, Mrs. Captain Palles and some other ladies were in conversation with her. The only observation she made was—  “Order me the usual complement of port wine, and see if Hogan (alluding to her maid) is in want of any thing.” — this was on a Thursday. With some difficulty, the snow being very heavy at the time, I obeyed her orders. In the evening she complained of being very low in spirits, but took no further notice ; the morning following Mrs. Dillon Hearne and her daughter called to inquire after her health, and observing a little change in her constitution rather inclining to debility, they proposed sending for a Doctor.   “ Doctor Harkan and I,” said she, after the ladies had left her,  “are not now, I fear, on friendly terms ; he wanted me to join him in a small bond of three or five hundred pounds, I can’t say which : it would be an infatuation in me, even under more auspicious circumstances, to do so; I never will put my signature to any document but my will or confession. “

Then, in an attitude of contrition and solemnity, looking at her favorite portrait of our Saviour, she exclaimed, ” What is the world to me : my God, my God, do not forsake me in my old age.” At the suggestion of Mrs. Major Nugent, Doctor Sheridan of Dominick-street was sent for, who prescribed some of these useless lotions which the generality of the profession give when the hand of death is raised against us. A few days previous she had written her confession, which from her earliest age she had been in the habit of doing, and afterwards reading, while on her knees, to such of the Priesthood as were recommended by the Bishop of the diocese in which she might happen to reside. I called on Saturday evening, and found her seated in an arm chair, in company with an old lady, a Mrs. Keogh, the mother of a respectable solicitor of that name from the barony of Athlone.   

“ I thank you, Gibbon,” said she, ” for your attention ; I know you wish me well, and in such commissions as I troubled you with I found you a trust-worthy person. My time in this world cannot be long ; I find myself getting weak and my appetite is vanished. A Mr. Maxwell, a man of integrity and great reputation in his profession, has orders to be here on Monday to take instructions for my last will ; you may rest assured I will not forget you. I am about leaving the whole of my landed property for charitable purposes with trustees, at the head of whom I shall place that worthy Prelate Bishop Troy, to see my that my desires be carried into execution. The poor and the needy shall be cheered and made comfortable, as well as such of my friends as have displayed integrity towards me. I do not know any person that claimed kindred to me who did not, when an opportunity occurred, deceive me.”  

At this time she seemed greatly affected and shed tears profusely. When she recovered from the pressure on her mind, which I think arose from her fear of being called from this world without leaving her property settled to her wishes, Mrs. Keogh, who had remained silent, and was taking some coffee, laid down her cup, and, addressing Madame O’Conor Don, asked her was she going to forget both her nephews, the Nolans ?  “ Yes, ma’am, “ was the reply ; “ they have forgot themselves; at least, one of them has forgot the family from whom he is naturally descended, and the other is solely under the contronl of a seraglio of abandoned women. Mrs. Keogh, do you wish me to contribute for the propogation of vice and bastardy ? “  “ Pardon me, Madam, “ replied the Dowager of the House of Keogh, ” I was not aware of that.” “ The records of the Courts of Justice and the denouncements of the Clergy, “ said Madame O’Conor, “ will convince you if you doubt my word. “ “ I think,” said she,” with the assistance of God, I will live to see all I am possessed of divided amongst the poor. Think of my aunt Dillon of Belgarde Castle who lived to be 99, and I am getting as good health and live as regular, if not more so, than ever she did. “   “ True, Ma’am,”  replied Mrs. Keogh; “ but it seems every generation is abridged in their maturity and longevity.”  “Indeed, “ said Madame O’Conor Don,  I have not been the same since I heard of Lord Dillon’s death — a man so strong, and of so good a constitution, to be cut off so suddenly ; however, he has left his family happy, with a competence to support their dignity.”  “ His favourite daughter, “ says she, “ died at the Dillon mansion, Oxfordshire, some time ago, and his youngest was lately married to a Reverend Gentleman, brother to the Duke of St. Alban’s. “  “ The Beauclercs, “ adds she, “ are descended from that profligate libertine Charles the First, by the celebrated Nell Gywnn, the favourite mistress of that satire writer, Fielding. Both he and Miss Dillon have no small claim to the stage ; therefore glass windows are too brittle to crack at each other. His Lordship told me that his daughter, Lady Webb, is a rigid Catholic ; while the children of a Frenchwoman that he lately married are, on the contrary, the most bigoted Lutherans. You see (looking at Mrs. Keogh) how hard it is to find even that union which one would expect (from the fanaticism of the times) in the offspring of one parent. As for the dear man himself, it is hard to say in which faith he departed this life. He was the first apostate in the noble house of Loughglin ; and was beyond thirty when smitten by the new doctrine of the reformation. Is it any wonder then, that the recollections of Popery was haunting his mind when the voracious gout had a hold of his heart and the pit of his delicate stomach. “

“ One Parson Palmer,”  says she, “ offered his pious services a few hours previous to this accomplished peer closing his eyes on all that was dear and valuable to him in this world ; but whether the revered Viscount felt satisfied that Doctor Palmer’s recommendation was an unnecessary passport at that awful crisis, or that the sorrowful and humble contrition of his own heart would be of infinite more importance, I cannot say ; and from what little Tom Hughes tells me, who is the very focus of information in these mountainous districts (called Costello and Keich-Currin), his Lordship passed off without a groan, and without the aid of priest or minister.”  “ He had his faults, “ adds she, “ but on the whole he was an accomplished worthy man.” 

Madame O’Conor turned the conversation, by saying that Mr. Kelly of Cargins, who called upon her that day, told her, in the course of conversation, that her friend (Lord Dillon) had the most splendid funeral that ever graced the obsequies of any nobleman in that country. “ Yes, “ says she, “ now-a-days they carry their pride into the very grave with them; all these silk robes and fine linen should not be thrown into the mire of the grave ; the expenses incurred on these occasions should be reserved for more meritorious objects — the houseless widow, the hungry orphan, the hoary-head and feeble old man, the abandoned female should be reclaimed, and dissuaded from her wicked life, and from seducing her yet unpolluted victims, and the unemployed (those disposed to work) encouraged — all these objects are worthy of our commiseration.”

” Woe unto you. Scribes and Pharisees, you lay burdens on the people that you yourselves would not touch with your fingers ; you go round the sea and land to make one proselyte ;” “and when you have him bought over, by bribe or otherwise, you make him tenfold more the child of hell than when you took him under your especial care. “

“ In no country in Europe,”  says this excellent and refined-minded woman, “ are the poor so shamefully and so ungratefully neglected as in Ireland : pass the streets and the hamlets, and the chief object that attract your notice is a group of half-starved and naked paupers.” “ I think, “ adds she, “ Mr. Kelly has a strong notion to purchase my moiety of the Lisnaneas estate. He is in want of turbary for the house of Cargins ; and with that commodity he can be abundantly supplied on my patrimony, in the immediate neighbourhood of his own residence. “  After a short pause : “ Indeed, Mrs. Keogh, “ says Madame O’Conor,   I never see young Dan Kelly that I don’t think of his uncle Dennis Kelly, who was shot by Whaley of Stephen’s-green. He was the second son of my dear relation, Ignatius Kelly, by his kinswoman Miss Kelly of Turrock, in the Barony of Athlone. He was intended for the bar ; but unfortunately he and Whaley, the son of the celebrated Burnchapel Whaley, and the brother of Lady Clare, met at a house in College-green, notoriously known as the Hell-Fire Club, where, it seems, this blinking Whaley insulted Mr. Kelly so grossly, that the foolish youth, who was only turned twenty at the time, insisted that he should fight him ; and from the room in which the dispute occurred they proceeded to the Barley Fields. “

“ Kelly, who it seems was in a state of inebriation, fired first, but was instantly shot dead by Whaley. His body was twenty-four hours in a stable, at the back of Stephen’s-green, before any of his friends knew of the melancholy transaction, which plunged his ancient and numerous relatives into the deepest affliction. I felt sincerely for both his sisters. Lady Crofton of Sligo, and Mrs. Lyster of Newpark, near Athlone. Whaley was brought to the bar of justice, as it was insinuated he took a deadly aim at his victim ; but Whaley’s faction, the FitzGibbons, the Beresfords, and others of that party ran high in those days, and he was acquitted. He was tried afterwards for killing a poor coach-driver, at his own door in Denzil-street ; but it seems the deceased’s widow compromised the atrocity for thirty pounds. “ “ Mr. Whaley “ adds she, ”  treated his amiable wife unkindly. He, however, has another bar to appear before, where neither bribe nor faction will avail him anything, God grant he may meet more mercy than he showed the poor innocent and justly esteemed Denis Kelly of Cargins.“

I took my leave, for the last time, of this noble-minded and excellent lady. I left her, Mrs. Keogh, and her own maid together ; and I thought she seemed in better spirits than I had seen her for some time. This was on Friday evening; and the urgency of business calling me away, I had not an opportunity seeing her again, as she died on the Monday morning following. I certainly imagined she would live many years longer. — But, alas ! death is certain, but the time and place uncertain. Her faithful maid, Hogan, and the other servants, found her dead in her bed, about nine o’clock in the morning, which was the usual hour to go in to her bed-room.

The Most Reverend Doctor Troy was sent for immediately, as it was understood she had willed her property to him for charitable purposes, much on the same plan as that of Lord Dunboyne and the Netterville munificence. His Lordship locked up all her trunks, plate, papers, &c. &c.; but on French Kelly presenting a will, made, as he insinuated, in his favour in 1811, Bishop Troy (very injudiciously, I must own,) came with him to Madame O’Conor’s apartments, handed him all her keys, papers, and property. French Kelly immediately ordered her remains out of the bedroom, and locked himself up there for some time, where he obtained possession of all her plate, private letters, and family papers, to which he had no claim whatever — it was a barefaced robbery, for of all other men in existence, the same notorious imposter was the last whom she wished to possess her property, or know any thing of her private affairs. This I assert in the face of the world as truth, and many who are still alive can confirm it to be so. William Kelly, or French Kelly, or what you will, is gone to meet his reward, to another and I hope a better world ; but his honest and conscientious widow, Margaret Davis, is still in the land of the living — and I dare her to contradict me : I saw the good woman praying in Marlborough-street Chapel a short time ago — I hail her contrition. We sinners must pray, and do penance hard, or we perish. Did Ireland, or any other Christian country, ever witness more atrocious fraud than that carried on to persecute and embitter the last moments of one of the most noble-minded women that ever graced the honourable circle in which (during her husband’s lifetime) she moved, and to which (it will be acknowledged even by her worst enemies) she was an ornament. God forgive her tormenters.

Many of them are ” gone to that bourne from whence no traveller e’er returns,” and I hope met with more clemency than they shewed the nominal Connaught Queen under the cloak of friendship. A long catalogue of false, and indeed spurious relatives, pervaded and haunted her, and like an epidemic contagion kept close to her heels wherever she went, and were as familiar at her door in the metropolis, as they were in the mountains of Costello, or the fens of Strokestown ; they availed themselves of her age, weakness, and the other infirmities incident to the human frame between sixty and eighty-four. During that period she was a prey to the grossest and basest imposition. Many of them were most assiduous in their allegiance and fidelity towards her Majesty, as they were pleased to call her ; and in particular that impure combustible of the most glaring and flagitious fraud, William French Kelly, Esquire, who, previous to his being sent to that receptacle for honester folks, his Majesty’s gaol, assumed the title of an attorney. This Shylock goes on his bended knees, unsought and unsolicited, to swear to be faithful, to all intents and purposes — not to himself, poor soul, for he was heedless in that way — but to Catherine Lavinia O’ Conor Don, of the manor of Cloonalis, in the County of Roscommon.

Surely any person who reads the aforesaid abridged sketch of the lamented and recently created attorney’s life, must say that he fulfilled those sacred engagements. Notwithstanding his robbing her of five hundred pounds, by which he had himself rigged out, to the no small astonishment of those who knew him in his ragged full dress in Mass-lane, and enrolled his immortal name on the list of attorneys, he took every other disgraceful advantage in low pelf; and the robbery that took place in her house at Strokestown, when a large sum of money was taken out of her trunk, with a family deed of no consequence, save to the heirs in possession of the estates of Ballintober or Cloonalis, from what I understood from Madame O’Conor Don some time after, a gentleman (in no small estimation in that salubrious county) confessed that he got the deed which was carried off with the rest of the stolen property. The person who delivered him that document was the wife of French Kelly or her mother; and is it not obvious (besides several other substantial proofs) that the persons who stole the family deed also took the money that was deposited in the same locker.

But what need I dwell here, or lay any stress on the reader, in supporting my assertions of the villainy of the insidious gang who assailed with vituperation and the most insulting acrimony Madame O’Conor Don, and particularly that wholesale monopolist in rapine, Mr. French Kelly, into whose hands the whole of her personal property fell immediately on her departure from this life, and also her last confession, of which the monster at the time boasted, with a 25s. note attached thereto. I hope the great and merciful God has forgiven so base a wretch ! — Is it not heinous in the sight of all men of honour, virtue, morality, or feeling, to think that any man, let him be ever so base, worthless, or void of those noble feelings with which at intervals the most reprobate characters are endowed, would retain and exult with impunity in having that confession in his and his worthless wife’s possession. O God ! who sees and knows all our evil thoughts and manifold transgressions, forgive the malignant perpetrators of so wicked and revolting an outrage against thy laws. The twenty-five shilling note pinned to her confession, her maid told me, was for the Rev. Mr. Walsh of Denmark-street, in the City of Dublin, who was many years Madame O’Conor’s Confessor. —

The late Mr. Nolan of Queensforth, in the County of Galway, the nephew of Madame O’Conor, who was heir-at-law, and French Kelly, who married the niece of Paul Davis, Esq. of Cloonshanville, near Frenchpark, decided their severe contest about the old lady’s property at a record in Roscommon, in March, 1815. French Kelly produced a will, if I do not mistake, purporting to be made in 1810 or 1811 ; and I have some reason to think that Madame O’Conor did put her signature to some document favourable to this French Kelly, as she thought him very faithful to her at the time ; but on finding him and ***** gross impostors, and having the audacity to insult her in her own house, she changed her mind, and instead of their being her favourites and friends, became her most inveterate enemies, and continued at law until the unfortunate lady’s death, which was chiefly owing to the forged or false deed of conveyance that her nephew (Bob Nolan) imposed upon her, and sold as genuine to the late John Farrell of Ballyglass, in this county.

From the general character, however, of French Kelly, which was any thing but creditable or supported with integrity, while harboured out of charity in the house of the lamented lady, who in her old age was a prey to such a merciless and rapacious rabble, there was another transaction which the unfortunate knave was guilty of, and that was a glaring and obvious erasure in expunging the name of some friend of the parties at the time, and substituting that of Mr. William Kelly, who now carries on the business of a wine merchant in Gardiner-street, in the City of Dublin.

These little forgeries corresponded with many other flagitious rogueries detected in this precious document. It was perceivable that Mr. French Kelly, like many others who are endeavouring to support a bad cause, engaged the whole strength of the Connaught Bar; amongst whom was Counsellor Boyd, and a great puff he was, just going to get married to the rich and disconsolate widow of old Rochford, commonly called the Lord of the Lakes or Belvedere. This was a strange change in Mr. Boyd, who was the leading Counsel of Madame O’Conor against French Kelly and others for years.

The first witness called to prove this will was John Davis, an attorney, and the first cousin of Mrs. French Kelly. This champion of the law seemed (from his testimony) to injure the cause of his honest friend and colleague more than render it any substantial service. The next who came to support this lame-legged testament were the two Mr. Finnigans : their trade (as they confessed, which caused a general laugh) was that of tinkers ; they lived in the same house in Moore-street, in the City of Dublin ; they occupied the under part — the remainder of the house was let to weekly tenants. —

Just so.

Well, Mr. Finnigan, have you any recollection of being called one evening to witness a will ?

— I have.

Where did the person reside?

— At the Pipe Water-Office in Dorset-street, and within a few doors of Granby-row.

Who was the person that received you when you went there ?

— On going there I accompanied a tenant of mine, Mr. French Kelly, who introduced me to an elderly lady as his landlord.

Did Mr. French Kelly mention your name to the lady ?

— I think he did.

What did he say ?

— As well as I recollect, he mentioned to the lady that I was Mr. Finnigan.

Was the lady young or old ?

— A very old lady, and as far as I could perceive, a high bred woman, entirely beyond the common run that shopkeepers meet in the course of business.

What hour might it be ?

— About eight o’clock in the evening.

Did you get any refreshment there?

— Yes, cake and wine.

Did the lady seem quite sensible of what was going on ?

— Apparently she did.

Did you delay long there ?

— Only a few minutes.

Who was there at the time ?

— Mr. French Kelly, my son, myself, and the lady whom we met there.

Did you all come away together ?

— No ; Mr. Kelly remained after us.—

This witness was cross-examined by Mr. Daniel, of Mountjoy-square, who was Mr. Nolan’s leading Counsel.

Your name is Finnigan ?

— Yes, Sir.

What business do you follow ?

— I am a tinker, genteelly called a brazier.

Have you resigned business ?

— I have.

You made your fortune, I suppose ?

— No, Sir ; I have been rather unfortunate, I failed in business.

Now, Mr. Finnigan, as a gentleman, will you tell those highly respectable gentry in the Jury box how often you were in the Sheriffs’ Prison ?

— I almost forget, Sir ; I think three times. —

Now, Mr. Finnigan, upon your honour, how many glasses of raw whiskey did you take the day you were called to sign the late Madame O’Conor’s last will and testament ?

— I do not recollect.

How many glasses do you take this cold weather to ease your cough ?

— Sometimes two or three rope-dancers (a laugh), according as the wind blows, or in other words, according as my friends and myself raise the wind.

The evidence of the other Finnigan was much in the same strain, and of no importance to be recorded, except that they both swore to their signatures, and that the old lady signed the will in their presence, as Catherine O’Conor Don.

The next witness called on behalf of Mr. Nolan, was the Most Rev. Doctor Thomas Troy, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, and being sworn, said he knew Madame O’Conor for many years ; saw her when very young, with her aunt Dillon, at Belgard Castle; saw her afterwards very often, while at school in King-street Nunnery ; was very intimate with her some years before her death; the lady’s intentions were to bequeath her property for charitable institutions ; told him she had no will made ; he resigned her keys, and such property as was in her apartments, to the gentleman who calls himself French Kelly, a few hours after the lamented lady’s death, as he shewed him a will, which he represented was made some years back in his favour, and observed that he was sure she forgot that such a document was extant, as they were not on good terms for some time before her death. This witness was not cross-examined.

Mrs. MacDonnell of Coonmore-house, in Mayo, was the next witness on behalf of Madame O’Conor’s nephew. She knew Madame O’Conor Don from her childhood ; she was allied to her father through a connexion with the Dillon family ; she never heard so base and so bad a character of any person as that given by the late Madame O’Conor of the gentleman who calls himself Mr. French Kelly, and who now claims her paternal property.

By Counsel — Is that long back, Madame, since you got this character of this mighty heir of the Connaught Queen ?

— Two days previous to her death.

Did you see the lady as late as February, 1814?

— I did.

Where did she reside then ?

— In Mary-street.

On your oath, Madam, did she tell you of her trunks being robbed in her house in Strokestown ?

— She did.

What did Madame O’Conor say she lost out of her lockers at the time ?

— In a small paper parcel she tied up twenty-five or thirty pounds in bank notes, and put them into a small trunk, in which were some gold and loose silver, private letters, and a family deed; the trunk was moved, and the lock broken, and the trunk left back in the place.

How near Madame O’Conor Don’s bed-chamber did Kelly and his wife sleep ?

— In the next room.

Who did the lady suspect for the theft ?

— Mr, French Kelly.

On your oath. Madam, did she tell you so ?

— She did.

Did she tell you that she consulted any person about the robbery ?

— She did, her Counsel, Mr. Boyd.

From the bad character that she gave of Mr. French Kelly, don’t you imagine that he is the last man on this earth she would leave her real and personal property to ?

— I am convinced he is.

You have no hostility to Kelly or his wife, any more than to do justice ?

— Not the least ; from their bad treatment to her I must own I don’t like them, as, from the various complaints Mrs. O’Conor Don made of their infamous conduct towards her, it could not be supposed that I could like them ; but let it not be understood that I have any personal hatred towards the Kellys.  I hold any improper character in the same contempt, no matter what claim they might have on my friendship or kindred.

Do you recollect, Mrs. MacDonnell, that your kinswoman told you of any other money of hers that French Kelly turned to his own use ?

— I do ; five hundred pounds he obtained from Bishop Troy of Rutland-square.

The cross-examination of this witness by Mr. Vandeleur and Mr. Crampton, did not in the least elucidate any thing to shake her excellent testimony; and her answers to both counsel were marked with judicious humility and unbiassed integrity. This lady is the widow of the late Myles MacDonnell, Esq. of Doo Castle, in Mayo, and the eldest daughter of the late James Hughes, Esq., by Miss Kean of Keansbrook, near Carrick-on- Shannon, in the County of Leitrim. Mr. Hughes was maternally allied to the Dillons of Lung, Bracklon, and Belgard Castle, in the County of Dublin, as also to the Brabazons of Newpark, in Mayo, a junior branch of the ancient and illustrious house of the Earls of Meath.

The last witness on this interesting trial was Mrs. Hilles, the wife of James Hilles, Esq., a merchant in Abbey-street, in the City of Dublin. Mrs. Hilles is the only daughter of Francis Coyne, Esq. of Clogher, near Boyle, in this county, by Miss Farrell of Corker, and the niece of John Farrell of Bloomfield, Esq. Mrs. Hilles knew the late Madame O’Conor since she was at a boarding-school in a nunnery in the town of Galway;  O’Conor Don and she went there for the benefit of bathing during the summer months, and Madame 0’Conor called in her carriage to see her ; the high compliment paid her she never forgot ; consequently, whenever she knew her to be in Dublin she always paid her a visit, at least once a week — sometimes oftener; a more amiable woman she never knew, nor a woman in her advanced state of life endowed with more humility and munificence to those in distress, or urbanity in her manners and deportment; in her whole frame was combined a multiplicity of those rare virtues seldom to be met with in this age, and yet she never knew any woman more unjustly persecuted or more virulently assailed by those who claimed her kindred; her idea was that those persons felt quite unhappy that their victim lived so long, that they might fight dog fight bear; and indeed her opinion was verified in the action now before the Court.

She saw Madame O’ Conor two days previous to her death, and sat some time in her bedchamber ; she found her in every respect as sensible in her conversation and as strong in her memory as at any other time that she happened to talk on her affairs ; she told her she had the form of a will written, wherein she was leaving her property (with the exception of trifling legacies) for charitable institutions, to be distributed by Doctor Troy and his successors; she reprobated the insidious conduct of French Kelly and his wife, and some others of her own kindred, whose base fraud plunged her in a wanton litigation with my uncle and others, which left her going to her grave poor and pennyless, so much so, that she could hardly procure the common necessaries of life, or keep a man servant as a protection to her in her old age.

Mr. Daniel asked her if she knew Mr, French Kelly ?

— She said she never saw him but once, according to her recollection.

Mrs. Hilles, be so kind as to tell the gentlemen in the Jury box what you knew of him on that occasion ?

— The Monday morning on which Mrs. O’Conor died, (having heard of it from a lady in Liffey-street Chapel,) I and a Miss O’Neil, now Mrs. Burke, of the County of Galway, proceeded to the deceased lady’s lodgings;  her maid admitted us to the drawing-room, where the corpse was laid on a table, without a human being in the room. I expressed my surprise at seeing the remains of a lady who was only a few hours dead removed from her bed- room. Her maid replied, that French Kelly ordered her to remove the corpse, as he wished to examine her trunks and papers. I threw myself, said the worthy woman, on a sofa, being so much oppressed at what I heard ; so help me God, (save the last view I had taken of all that was mortal of my own parent,) nothing ever so touched my feelings at the moment than seeing the remains of as amiable and honourable a woman as ever breathed, a prey and under the merciless persecution of so unfeeling a wretch ; even after death put an end to her sufferings on this earth, to see all that remained of her puissant greatness and high lineage insulted with impunity by so worthless and rapacious a knave. After shedding tears for the misfortunes of the object before my face, and reflecting how uncertain our views and expectations were in this world, in which melancholy sensibility I was joined by Miss O’Neil and the maid, who seemed to feel the same pangs of overwhelming grief; and after sitting and undergoing for some time those melancholy and sad reflections generally felt on those occasions, Mrs. Harkan of Sackville- street was ushered in, accompanied by a young lady ; next walked in the defendant, French Kelly, who, on entering the room, did not notice any person seated there, and behaved in the most rude and insolent manner, going up to the fire, throwing up the filthy skirts of a threadbare great coat, and putting his back to the grate, began to amuse his wicked thoughts by shaking his leg, on which was an old top boot that seemed to have seen better days on their former owner.

Pray, Madam, said one of the lawyers, did the attorney affect no more grief for the loss of a lady who seemed so interested for him than what you describe ?

— If whistling denote grief, said Mrs. Hilles, it was all I could recognise.

You never saw the new squire before or after ?

— No, Sir, until within these few minutes, when I saw him in this Court.

Mrs. Hilles underwent a long cross-examination by French Kelly’s lawyers — I think Mr. North and George French of Eccles-street, (the latter confessed afterwards that he was afraid to attack her.)

The chief of the cross-examination was to shew the Jury that Mrs. Hilles was personally hostile to Mr. French Kelly, in consequence of the able part he had taken respecting the false deed of conveyance that Robert Nolan sold to her uncle, Mr. John Farrell of Bloomfield. All, however, was useless.

Mrs. James Hilles gave the most luminous evidence that ever was given in the Court-House of Roscommon ; and the present inheritor, Mr. Robert Nolan, late of the 101st regiment, is much indebted to her, or the estate of Lisnanean would at this present moment be in the possession of the attorney’s clerk, French Kelly, of the town of Loughrea, or his heirs.

Not only what I have described, but other invaluable and legal information respecting the frauds of the French Kellys and Co. was also obtained through Mrs. Hilles. It is obvious that from the aversion that Madame O’Conor Don had for the Nolans, as well as the French Kellys and the Davises, that it was not her intention to leave so much as one farthing to any of those I have mentioned ; but as she died intestate, it was of course natural to suppose that her nephew, Mr. Kelly Nolan of Queensforth, had the best claim to her property, which he obtained, to the no small rejoicing of a crowded Court.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Johnston was the presiding Judge ; Mathew O’Conor, Esq. of Mount-Druid, was the Foreman of the Jury, who were highly respectable; and amongst whom were John Young of Castlerea — Mark Low of Lowville — Thomas Nolan of Castlecoote, Esqrs., and indeed eight other gentlemen of equal respectability.

If the unfortunate French Kelly followed the humble avocation in life to which he was brought up — and had not, through the folly of his vain and ambitious wife, who had nothing on earth to boast of but being descended from the Dillons and Davises, two unfortunate families who had a long pedigree and a short rent-roll, and what was worse, by tracing them to their remotest origin, were only placed in this kingdom as the immortal Hudson Lowe, who, if we believe my friend, Barry O’Meara, was lower than many honest men would wish to be, as a watch on the natives, and if they exceeded the mild edicts or bounds prescribed, had them hung or shot genteelly at their own door or on the next gibbet, until the good- natured vultures of some neighbouring havoc or demolished ruin picked the flesh off their bones, for fear (as we must naturally surmise) that those spectres, which were so prevalent in those days of sanguinary rapine, would increase the epidemic contagion that unfortunately raged, aided by the many other privations in all parts of this country, and in no district more so than in those parts of Roscommon under the humane governorship of the Dillons and the never- forgotten Davises —

if this Jack-of-the-Wall, commonly called French Kelly, as I have observed, followed his daily and nightly labour, earning his penny per sheet amongst his brethren on the scriveners’ grazy bench in any of the nests of literature in town, the unlamented limb of litigation would not add to the long list of Radford Roes who put the country to the frequent expense of a parish coffin, to have their remains deposited in the family vault in his Majesty’s gaol of Newgate, or, for the benefit of the fragrant air, in Bully’s Acre at the sign of the platform on Kilmainham common.

I have observed before, that Honora O’Conor, the daughter of Dowell, of Mantua, near Elphin, was the lady by whose exertions the house of O’Conor, now extant, was built;  unquestionably the site selected reflects no small honour on the lady’s memory, as it embraces several natural advantages. The mansion is situated on a verdant lawn, secluded by a handsome round fort from the intrusion of strangers : the fort in itself is a cooling and delightful shade, covered with drooping willows, reclining majestically into the River Suck, which swells in all its magnitude, and throws its radiant rays on this antique residence, delightfully adorned and protected by the mature oak, sycamore, and various shrubs of evergreen which spontaneously co-operate to beautify with their fragrant and never-fading mantle the castle terrace and serpentine walks in and about the house of Cloonalis.

“ Though Honora Dowell,” said my father, “ was no welcome guest to her mother-in-law, the

Lady Anne Birmingham O’Conor Don, still her fortune, only a few hundred pounds, enabled them to improve their small and mountainous patrimony and build a respectable house in place of a low smoky hovel in which they resided, after being expelled from their ancient and noble seat at Castlerea.” “ Lady Anne O’Conor, “ added he, ” of the puissant house of Athenry, and the matrimonial niece of the great O’Brien, Prince of Thomond and Clare, was a very imperious woman, and wished her son to be married to the heiress of O’Moore of Cloughan Castle, and though the Dowells possessed the chief of the estate of O’Flanagan, called the Mantues and the Callows, a large tract of low swamp and a deep moor, which in rainy weather and during the winter months forms into a beautiful lake and almost inundates some miles in the vicinity of that riotous district, well known as Loughaughreagaugh, I must own they were connected with respectable families, such as the Dillons of Belgarde Castle, and the Graces of Gracefield, in the County of Kilkenny. “

Even so, the O’ Conors Don felt somewhat indignant at the connexion, which I am sorry to say proved unfortunate, and was verified in the deportment, intemperance, and austerity which the lady shewn after her marriage, and on no occasion more so than on her insulting, at her own table, her husband’s kinsman, Daniel O’Conor Don, the last Prince of the house of Ballintober, who lived a single life, and was maternally allied to the Burkes of Meelick and the Butlers of Thomastown, to the latter of whom he bequeathed the residue of his former domains, such as Ballintober, Toomana, Endfield, Carraghreagh, Bracklon, and some other manors in the vicinity of that ancient and majestic ruin of royalty called the Castle of O’Conor, leaving the hereditary estates to strangers. This caused that memorable law suit, so long pending, between the O’Conors and the Butlers, and which undoubtedly would have terminated in favor of the O’Conors, were it not for the foolish conduct of the late Sandy O’Conor, who died a few years back at his favorite hut near Castlerea.

The dispute originated between two factions, about a Priest of the name of Magrath, who was fosterer to the O’Conors Don, and whom they wished to possess the extensive Parish of Ballintober : on the other hand they were vehemently opposed by a resident of the parish, who wished (and who could blame him ?) to have his own kinsman and namesake Parish Priest. In this manner, unfortunately for the O’Conors of Ballinagare, the county was convulsed — so much so, that cannon were ordered from the Castle of Dublin. The Rev. Mr. Magrath was brother to a tanner of that name who lived in the town of Castlerea, and who, on his marriage with a woman of the name of Compton, the daughter of an old English pensioner, embraced Protestantism, in lieu of which the leathern neophyte got leases from the Sandfords and the Frenches of Frenchpark of some farms in that neighbourhood, by which he accumulated some money. His grandson, a worthy gentleman, is Rector of Shankhill in the County of Carlow, and many others of that family are much respected;  however, Sandy O’Conor was sent to prison for the outlaw and battery which he foolishly raised in the country, where the Cloonalis and the Corristoona factions, with Big Roger Conor and his sons at their head, were arrayed against each other. Prince Sandy stood his trial and was acquitted, as the Protestant aristocracy of the county — the Mahons, Sandfords, and the Cootes of Castlecoote, felt more for the weakness of his mind and the deficiency and gross neglect of his education in his early days, than any determination to visit such ludicrous absurdities with further coercion than sending him home to be placed under the protection of Molly Egan, a good natured woman, who nurse-tended the Prince many years. When one Ledwich of Ballymahon, in the County of Longford, found his Majesty’s troops with a few cannon in that country, he availed himself of calling in their aid to dispossess a little squire in the mountains of Dunmore, of the name of Geoghegan, on pretence that his ancestors had mortgages on one or two marshes, for centuries in the possession of the great O’Geoghegans. The unfortunate Geoghegans fled in all directions, and, from being mountain squires and village rulers, became itinerant paupers. I recollect myself seeing the honorable ex-heir of Dismal Glen, long Ned Geoghegan, who had what are vulgarly called bow legs, and was many years a plucker in, or a sort of enticing serjeant in this district. I have only to add, that it was by the insult Honora Dowell of Mantue gave old Daniel O’Conor, that the heirs of Cloonalis and Ballinagare lost the Ballintober estates, which for upwards of one thousand years were in the possession of that illustrious and esteemed family, who, in all the privations and revolutions that oppressed them, never changed the religion of their forefathers for the novelty and whimsical fanaticism of the times.

The Murder of James Lawder in 1779

This is from ” The Gentleman’s and London Magazine: Or Monthly Chronologer, for January 1779 p.59.”James Lawder is the husband of a 1st cousin 8x removed; his wife’s grandmother was Catherine Goldsmith, the eldest sister of the poet, and playwright Oliver Goldsmith (1728 – 1774). 

On the morning of the 7th inst. [ Jan 1779] about the hour of two o’clock, a number of villains, with their faces blackened, and shirts over their clothes, broke into the house of James Lawder, Esq: of Kilmore, in the county of Roscommon, armed with guns, pistols, and other weapons, and immediately rushed into his bed chamber, and did then and there commit a most barbarous and inhuman murder on said Mr Lawder, by discharging a gun or pistol, or both, loaded with slugs or large shot into his left breast, of which he soon after expired. They robbed the house of cash to the amount of between four and five hundred pounds; [ the modern day equivalent is £755,000 to £944,000 ]  among which were five five guinea pieces, and two four-pound pieces. They also carried off with them a gun, and two pistols; one of which was mounted with silver, the other an old militia pistol.

Sligo Jan 15. We have the pleasure to hear that one M’Dermott, a butcher, in Carrick on Shannon, and his brother in law, were apprehended and lodged in the goal of Roscommon; and that there is a positive proof of the former’s being the villain who shot Mr Lawder. The first light it is said, thrown on that most abominable fact, was the taking up on suspicion, a servant man belonging to Mr Lawder, who confessed his being an accomplice, and turned approver.

From the Carrick on Shannon Schools Integration Project, we have the following written by someone called Malachy2. 

Kilmore Church, Roscommon

Kilmore Church is built on a dangerous bend. There is not much place to park. The building looks old and grey. Across from it is the Kilmore House. A tunnel is believed to have stretched from the church to Lowfield lake. My granny is buried in the church grounds.

There are many interesting memorial slabs inside the church. It is very dangerous in stormy weather. The hall is nearby. Next door is my Grandad’s house. My grandfather is the caretaker.

The Lawder memorial [ in Kilmore Church]  is the most interesting feature. A large white marble slab is fixed to the wall. It depicts the shooting of James Lawder on 7th January 1779. He was murdered in Kilmore House. The memorial was erected by his wife Mrs. Jane Lawder (neé Contarine). Mrs. Lawder’s mother was a first cousin of Oliver Goldsmith, the famous poet.  Jane Lawder died in Dublin in 1791. 

Captain S. A. Grehan And Miss C. Gaisford St. Lawrence. 1925

Brompton Oratory


The wedding was celebrated at the Brompton Oratory last Saturday between Captain S. A. Grehan, O.B.E., M.C., of the Royal Artillery, only son of Mr. Grehan, of Clonmeen, County Cork, and Miss Cecily Gaisford St. Lawrence, third daughter of Mr. Gaisford St. Lawrence, of Howth Castle, County Dublin. Father Edward Pereira officiated, and Mr. T. Galwey was best man. The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a gown of gold tissue and lace, with a train of the same materials. Her veil, of old family lace, was held in position by orange blossoms, and she carried a bouquet of lilies. Her two train-bearers were Miss Bunty Whyte, niece of the bridegroom, and Miss Anne Hope Morley, daughter of the Hon. Claude and Lady Dorothy Hope Morley ; the bridesmaids were Miss Dorothy and Miss Clare Gaisford St. Lawrence, the Hon. Betty Hotham, and Miss Rosemary Rees.

Interior of Brompton Oratory

A reception was afterwards held at 34, Belgrave Square. The large company present included Mrs. Gaisford St. Lawrence, Miss Gaisford St. Lawrence, Mr. Stephen Grehan, Mrs. Whyte, Commander and Mrs. Ryan, the Misses Gaisford, the Right Hon. James Hope and Mrs. Hope, Colonel and Mrs. Chichester Constable, Mr. and Mrs. O. Riddell, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Clifford, Lady Margaret Domvile, Viscountess Gormanston, Ethel Lady Beaumont and the Hon. Ivy Stapleton, Sir Henry and Lady Jerningham, Lady Winefride Elwes, the Hon. William and Mrs. Stourton, Sir Gerald Strickland, Mrs. Molyneux Seel, Mr. Silvertop, Mrs. Eyston, Mrs. Edward Eyre, Mr. Wellesley Colley, Madame Reyntiens, Mrs. Blundell, Mrs. Blount and the Misses Blount, Miss de Trafford, Col. and Mrs. Turville Petre, and many others.

The above text was found on p. 24, 23rd May 1925  in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

Owen O’Conor, the O’Conor Don 1763 – 1831

Owen O’Conor, the O’Conor Don (1763 – 1831), of Belanagare and Clonalis, co. Roscommon was the brother in law of Patrick Grehan Senior (1756 -1832). He was married to Judith Moore’s eldest sister Jane. So he’s a 5th great-uncle.

He was the first Catholic M.P. for Roscommon since his ancestor Sir Hugh O’Conor Don (1541-1632) ,  his son and two grandsons were also M.P’s. He was a friend, and colleague of Daniel O’Connell, who wrote to his son Denis after his death

” The death of my most respected and loved friend, your father, was to me a severe blow … How little does the world know of the value of the public services of men who like him held themselves always in readiness without ostentation or parade but with firmness and sincerity to aid in the struggles which nations make for liberty … I really know no one individual to whom the Catholics of Ireland are so powerfully indebted for the successful result of their contest for emancipation … His was not holiday patriotism … No, in the worst of times and when the storms of calumny and persecution from our enemies and apathy and treachery from our friends raged at their height he was always found at his post. “

He was only an M.P. from 1830 – 12 June 1831, but the seat was inherited by his son Denis who was an M.P for sixteen years, and later his grandson Charles Owen O’Conor who was an M.P for Roscommon for twenty years.

The O’Conors were descended from the ancient kings of Connaught through a younger son of Sir Hugh O’Conor Don (1541-1632) of Ballintubber Castle, sometime Member for county Roscommon. Owen’s grandfather Charles O’Conor (1710-91) was a noted antiquary and his father Denis and uncle Charles (1736-1808) of Mount Allen, as heirs to one of the oldest and most extensive Irish landholding families in the province, participated in the Catholic agitation of the late eighteenth century.

Owen, who served as a Volunteer in 1782 and was one of the Roscommon delegates to the Catholic convention in 1793, was also active in this campaign and probably became involved with the United Irishmen. However, except for his remark to Wolfe Tone in January 1793 that he was prepared for extreme measures, he steered clear of revolutionary activity, unlike his radical cousin Thomas (of Mount Allen), who in 1801 emigrated to New York; it was there that his son Charles (1804-84) became a prominent Democrat lawyer.

Denis O’Conor’s fourth cousin Dominick O’Conor (d. 1795) had left Clonalis ( the family house, and estate)  to his wife Catherine (d. 1814) and then to Owen as future head of the family. This was disputed by Dominick’s younger brother Alexander, who succeeded him as the O’Conor Don and had delusions of establishing himself as a self-styled monarch in a rebuilt Ballintubber Castle; he and his next brother Thomas, who predeceased him, were described by Skeffington Gibbon as ‘men of high and noble birth, but from their eccentric, secluded, pecuniary difficulties and habits, hardly known beyond the walls of the smoky and despicable hovels in which they lived and died’. After protracted litigation that reduced the value of the property, O’Conor purchased Clonalis outright in 1805, and on Alexander’s death in December 1820 he inherited the headship of the Don part of the old Catholic clan of the O’Conors. 

By the early 1820s the O’Conor Don was one of the most influential of the older generation of reformers in the Catholic Association. He played a leading part in the regular petitioning by Catholics in Roscommon, where he gave his electoral support to the pro-Catholic County Members. He spoke against the introduction of Poor Laws to Ireland and the increased Irish stamp and spirit duties. He stood in the general election of 1830,  pledging to support a range of radical reforms and to devote the rest of his life to the Irish cause. He was returned unopposed as the first Catholic to represent Roscommon since his ancestor Sir Hugh.