McGee's Escape at Tremone Bay 1848
Thomas D'Arcy McGee was actively involved in planning the 1848 rising.
He was a member of the 5-man committee or War Council. This group had
full responsibility for giving the signal to start the insurrection.
While some members of the council were actively involved in preparations
in Wexford, Tipperary and Kilkenny, McGee was arrested at Roundwood in
Co. Wicklow on July 14th 1848 for making a "seditious" speech
in the chapel grounds. He was accused of urging people to seek a repeal
of the Act of Union. He was allowed out on bail but escaped conviction
owing to a technicality.
He went to Scotland first to secure recruits, arms and ammunition and
to arrange for ships to travel from the Clyde to Sligo Bay. This mission
was a failure. He sought refuge in Ballyharry and Kindroyhead, according
to Michael Harkin, author of "Inishowen". He had been befriended
by Bishop Edward Maginn of Derry who helped him escape dressed as a priest.
McGee recorded his deep appreciation of the bishops help in his biography
of Maginn several years later. In Ballyharry, he became acquainted with
Roger McCann who was a pilot. There was a steady shipping trade between
Derry and Philadelphia with ships such as "Mary Anne Henry",
the "Arominta", the "Messenger", the "Superior"
and the "Colombo" making regular voyages. It is believed that
D'Arcy McGee travelled on board the "Shamrock". From Port a'Bhaid
(Boat Port), he was ferried out by Roger McCann who knew Tremone Bay,
its tides and shipping. He left as a fugitive in disguise, arriving in
Philadelphia on October 10th to begin a new life in America and later
in Canada, where he played a prominent role in politics.
He visited Ireland in 1865 and at a lecture in Wexford in May of that
year he said, "You will remember that I spent the years from 1842
to 1845 in America, and I was a Young Ireland fugitive in 1848. I am not
at all ashamed of Young Ireland - why should I ? Politically we were a
pack of fools but we were honest in our folly".
Among those who have contributed to our understanding of these events
are Marie and Charles McCann of the Greencastle Maritime Museum. They
are relatives of Roger McCann, the pilot who assisted McGee.
D'Arcy McGee's contribution to the development of the Confederation of
Canada is acknowleged by a memorial stone at Tremone Bay in Inishowen,
Co. Donegal. His fame in Canada is recognised by a statue in the grounds
of the parliament buildings. His funeral is commemorated by a plaque at
St. Patrick's Church, Montreal.
For ten dismal days I remained in this neighbourhood, hoping against hope
and endeavouring to make others do the same. The proposals I then made,
the result of desperation, I will not repeat, for now, even to myself,
I confess they look wild and extravagant. But I felt the whole futurity
of shame that awaited us for abandoning the country without a blow. It
was well advanced in August before I could persuade myself that no hope
remained. The Treasurer of our Scotch Committee came to Ireland expressly
to urge me to consult my own safety in flight, in which he was joined
by the whole of my local associates. Successively arrived the news of
Meagher, Leyne and McManus being taken. Then indeed I knew "all was
up". Then, indeed, I felt the force of that I had long before prophesied
- "What if we fail?" I resolved not to be taken if I could help
it, and acted accordingly. After some personal adventures in Donegal and
Derry (with which I will not trouble the reader) I saw the last of the
Irish shore early in September, and on the 10th of October reached Philadelphia.
Written by D'Arcy McGee in 1850 after his escape. From Denis Gywnn, "Young
Ireland and 1848".
Text from Thomas D'Arcy McGee Commemoration edited by Sean
Galligan writer and broadcaster BBC Radio Foyle and Radio Ulster wrote...
novel Lament In The Wind
was launched in October 1999. Beginning in the present, the carefully
researched work of fiction set against the background of famine Ireland,
tells the compelling story of Cassie O Connor. It has already been
described, as a story of that will live long in the memory of the reader.Lament
in the wind is not only Hazel Mc Intyres tribute to the victims
of The Great Hunger, but is also a tribute to the courage and dignity
of the human spirit.
An interesting footnote to Hazel Mc Intyres third book is that young
Irelander, Thomas Darcy Mc Gee, escaped to America in 1848 via Culdaff
in Co. Donegal where Mc Geedisguised as a clergymanhid in
a farmhouse until passage was secured for him on a Derry emigrant ship.
By 1858 he had established the New Era newspaper in which
he advocated the creation of a Canadian nation. On July the first, 1867,
he was a member of the Canadian legislature which admitted New Brunswick
as one of the four original provinces of the Dominion of Canada. As
I followed the turbulent life and times of Cassie O Connor from
County Donegal to New Brunswick , I was reminded of T. S. Elliots
lines;"Beneath the bleeding hands we feel The sharp compassion of
the healers art Resolving the enigma of the fever chart."Cassies
life parallels an equally convulsive period in famine Ireland but Hazel
Mc Intyre doesnt resort to easy cliché or cosy familiarity. is
the healers art; the British and Irish are not conveniently
brutal and downtrodden in equal measure; the fever chart of
Irelands history is much too enigmatic to be used as a expedient
backdrop for a work of fiction. There is suffering in Lament In
The Wind but the innate compassion of the author ensures that we
are left with hope and affirmation. This is a love story and to quote
Anthony Trollope; Those who have courage to love should have courage
The celebrated writer Joyce Carey once wrote about the dark
light which enveloped the Inishowen Peninsula, the setting for one
of his novels. He evoked the landscape, its colors and moods and as I
read Hazel McIntyres moving account of the life of her central character,
Cassie OConnor, in Lament In The Wind, the themes of
light and darkness kept recurring. The darkness was the shadow of the
Great Famine but the light shone from the love and warmth of the characters
in their triumph over adversity in a traumatic period in Irish history.In
this, her third publication, Hazel McIntyre vividly recounts the dark
episodes in the lives of the famine victims; their fear of the workhouse,
the threats of eviction, the hemorrhage of emigration and the deserted
homesteads left in its wake. But she also evokes the redeeming brighter
side of human nature as events unfold, which bring hope out of despair
and which, a century later, turn darkness into light.No-one can remain
unmoved after reading this heroic story, skillfully narrated with sympathy
and understanding by Hazel McIntyre ; a powerful tribute that will be
eagerly read everywhere, but especially in Ireland and Canada.