1999-06-11 / Columnists

Meet The Irish

by Harry McGuirk


When we entered our apartment after a long stay in Ireland first glance was at the painting of Robert Emmet. Good old Robert, hero of Ireland’s insurrection.

Bold Robert Emmet, the darling of Ireland. Hanged, drawn and quartered. He died for the cause - the cause being an Irish Republic Freedom for all, a constitution comparable to America’s freedom.

Robert and his brother, both of the Protestant faith, were from a well-off family.

A liberal father was concerned about the starving native Irish, shall we say the native Irish, the nationalists or Catholic people beaten down to the role of slaves.

The Emmets were not alone. The liberal minded people of the well off Protestants gathered together in secret to form an underground freedom movement. The Catholics followed their leadership to get the yoke of Brit slaves off the backs of what would be citizens of an Irish Republic, North and South.

The Brits with a large army of occupation in Ireland and France, in sympathy with the poor Irish having won their own freedom, had tried and almost won Ireland’s freedom. But the Brits counter attacked the French withdrew, Wolftone dressed (as he was) in the uniform of a French admiral. He was captured and died in Kilmainhem jail. Was it suicide or was it murder?

Robert Emmet and other leaders took up the cause to fight on. The French and British made a peace pact. It left poor Robert and his leaders up the creed but they decided to fight on. The Catholic and the Protestant churches protested the United Irishman’s efforts but the Irish Republicans fought on - religion was not a great factor but national freedom was their justified cause.

At Thomas street crossroads in the Dublin Liberties, a platform was built and as thousands watched Robert Emmet was hanged. His body was stolen away and many people still wonder where his remains are buried.

I got the word while I was in Dublin that Robert Emmet’s relatives would be assembling from around the world.

I made contact with them but unfortunately I couldn’t attend a private luncheon they had but they told me they were having a private Protestant service in the back garden of St. Catherine’s Church, was adjacent to the gallons where Robert Emmet died. I announced to all that I was a Catholic. I was given a very warm welcome. Everyone introduced himself. The sermon was short and one of the Roberts whispered to me, "She me the was to the Curragh." It was Derby Day.

I left him at Heuston Railway station, formerly Kings Bridge. I went home, fried some sausages and turned on Walton’s Mountain.

Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History