Meagher, in Australia and America 1848 to 1867 | Origins of the Flag

For his role in the 1848 rebellion, after a trial in Clonmel, Meagher was sent into exile in Tasmania, Australia. After two years, he escaped from his official confinement, and went to America.

There, he fought as a Brigadier-General in the US Army during the American Civil War with a unit called the Irish Brigade. After the American civil war, he became acting governor of the state of Montana. He died in suspicious circumstances, aged 44 years of age.

Trial of Irish patriots Clonmel c1848
“Trial of Irish patriots Clonmel” c. 1848
(by Currier & Ives - New York; US Library of Congress at

Meagher wrote a foreword to an American edition of his speeches in 1852.

Only four years away from the 1848 rebellion, he realised that the radical tone of his speeches, “inspired by a people in the attitude of resistance, sounds strangely upon the ear when the chorus, which hailed the coming of the contest, has ceased – and the fire upon the altar has been extinguished.”

After the failure of the rebellion, as he continued to look for the “suppression of sectarian feuds”, Meagher hoped that, “within the gates, by the rivers, amongst the ruins, amid the mountains, of the old land”, the “young Democracy of Ireland” would continue to fight against a “corrupt system of politics”. He wanted his speeches to “touch the imprisoned mind, and restore it to the sunshine of its early skies”.

This sense of idealism would influence many individuals who became influential in the independence struggle between 1916 and 1922.

In Your Opinion

1) Why did the previous radical tone of his speeches before 1848 appear so strange in 1852?

2) What change did Meagher hope would happen in Ireland in the near future?

Supporting Material

(T. F. Meagher, Speeches on the legislative independence of Ireland. With introductory notes by Thomas Francis Meagher. (New York: Redfield, 1853) pp xii-xiv

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