“Adieu, Julia, my light is out. The approach of darkness is like that of death, since both alike require I should say farewell forever. Oh! my dear family, farewell forever…”– from a letter written by John Sheares to his sister shortly before his execution.

‘On July 14th, 1798, brothers John and Henry Sheares (pictured), who were both lawyers and United Irishmen, were hung, drawn and quartered in Dublin.

Sons of a wealthy banker and member of the Irish Parliament from County Cork, Henry was briefly an officer in the ’51st Regiment of Foot’ following his schooling, but did not find army life to his liking and resigned his commission. Both brothers became successful lawyers and could have lived out their lives in comfort, but they visited France together in 1792 and there acquired their revolutionary republican principles. On the boat home from France they met Daniel O’Connell, who may have also been inspired by the revolution in France, but was repulsed by the violence that had gone on there and did not join the United Irishmen.

They joined the United Irishmen on their return to Dublin and John began to write articles for ‘The Press’, a nationalist paper, and help organize the group in Cork. When most of the leaders of the United Irishmen were arrested in the spring of 1798, John became the defacto leader for a short time. The brothers were betrayed by an informer, Captain Warnesford Armstrong, and were arrested on May 21st. Found guilty of treason, they were publicly hung (drawn, and quartered) outside Newgate Prison in Dublin. Both are buried at Dublin’s St. Michan’s Church…’ (From here.)

The informer Armstrong was a particularly odious character – a ‘rat’ of a man – who struck up a ‘friendship’ with the Sheares children, who looked forward to visits from him, at their house in Baggot Street, in Dublin.

He was a Captain in the ‘King’s County Militia’ and was tasked with ingratiating himself with the Sheares Brothers as the ‘authorities’ were aware of their republican activities. Indeed, at least two other informers – Conway and Collins – were also ‘on the case’, but it was Armstrong who ‘succeeded’, to the point that John Sheares himself instructed Armstrong to be on his guard, as other ‘United Irishmen’ were convinced that Armstrong was a spy and were planning to execute him!

In a ‘trial’ which lasted all of seventeen minutes – in which Armstrong happily took to the dock and testified against the brothers – they were found ‘guilty of high treason’. The informer Armstrong was granted the ‘Freedom of the City’ by the British and was placed in command of a British militia group in County Wicklow, where he delighted in shooting suspected rebels on sight, even those who had been ‘pardoned for assisting the Crown’. As we said – a particularly odious character.

In a speech from the dock, John Sheares, who had been presented as some sort of a bloodthirsty individual, stated –

“The accusation of which I speak, while I linger here yet a minute, is that of holding out to the people of Ireland a direction to give no quarter to the troops fighting for its defence.

My lords, let me say thus, that if there be any acquaintances in this crowded court – I do not say my intimate friends, but acquaintances – who do not know what I say is truth, I shall be reputed the wretch which I am not ; I say, if any acquaintance of mine can believe that I could utter a recommendation of giving no quarter to a yielding and unoffending foe, it is not the death which I am about to suffer that I deserve.

No punishment could be adequate to such a crime. My lords, I can not only acquit my soul of such an intention, but I declare, in the presence of that God before whom I must shortly appear, that the favorite doctrine of my heart was that no human being should suffer death, but when absolute necessity required it..”

John and Henry Sheares were hanged, drawn and quartered, 223 years ago on this date.

She said, “Ten times they fought for me,

ten times they with might and main

Ten times I saw them beaten down,

Ten times they rose, and fought again.

She said, “I stayed alone at home,

A dreary woman, grey and cold

I never asked them how they fared,

Yet still they loved me as of old…”
(From the poem ‘After Aughrim’, by Emily Lawless.)


By Margaret Buckley.

From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.

The passage of time is, I suppose, responsible for the curious omission in accounts of his life, of the fact that O’Donovan Rossa actually lived and worked in Cork City, between the years 1904 to 1906.

The ‘Cork Celtic Literary Society’ of that period whose membership included Terence McSwiney, Thomás McCurtain, Liam de Roiste (Secretary), Diarmuid Fawsitt, Fred Cronin and others, and all had kept up a close correspondence with the exiled patriot, and he had repeatedly expressed his ardent desire to return and live again in Ireland.

Those young men bent themselves to the task of furthering his ambition, and with the influence of the then Lord Major of Cork – Alderman Richard Cronin, a brother Fenian of Rossa’s – succeeded in securing for him a post with Cork County Council. Rossa, his wife and their two daughters were welcomed at Queenstown (Cobh) by his comrades…


..1921 : two thorns in the side of Irish freedom, Éamon de Valera and Lloyd George, met each other for the first time on this date in 1921. Within a week of sizing each other up, the British offered de Valera dominion statue within the ‘Empire’, but not for the whole of Ireland – the ‘deal’ was for only twenty-six of our thirty-two counties and was rejected.

The British then offered fresh discussions, based on the issues surrounding “how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire can best be reconciled with Irish national aspirations..”, and talks in connection with that ‘offer’ began but de Valera sensed that it was not going to work out to Irish advantage and sent five plenipotentiaries to London to discuss the issue, instead of travelling there himself.

And so it was that Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Robert Barton, Eamonn Duggan and George Gavan Duffy accepted partition, dominion status within the “community of nations known as the British Empire” (a status “the same as that of the Dominion of Canada”) and lost several ports, as well as – whether they knew it then or not – becoming the leadership of an anti-republican military and political grouping in the new 26-County State.

This was actually just another rung on the ladder of what polite/mis-guided political commentators in this State and elsewhere call ‘the Troubles’ ; our (political and military) ‘troubles’ didn’t start then, or in the 1960’s – they can be traced back to the 12th Century and in each of those centuries a dev, Griffith, Collins etc grouping can be found which ‘struck a deal’ with Westminster, the price of which we are still paying.

…1572 : on the 14th of July that year, a ‘Sir’ Nick White was appointed as the ‘Master of the Rolls’ in Ireland. He mixed with and was known to the political elite of the time who, apparently, always politely held him at arms length ; he wasn’t really considered by them to be ‘one of us’ as he was born in Waterford, in Ireland, and was inclined to give a fair(ish) hearing in relation to legal matters arising from the ‘connection’ between Ireland and England ; meaning that he didn’t always come down hard enough on the ‘uppity Irish’ if, in his opinion, there was a case to be made for ‘fair play’ in any dispute which he worked on.

The political circles in which he moved were suspicious of him because of that and, when one of his cases involved working with ‘Sir’ John Perrot, his detractors decided to move against him. Perrot was an earlier version of Oliver Cromwell when it came to an ‘Irish solution’ ie a ‘kill-them-all-and-let-God-sort-them-out’-type of marauder but, despite his best efforts, he failed, and the Irish survived and continued to be uppity.

However, in between his failures with subjugating the Irish he became a rich(er) man, making enemies out of those who were jealous of his financial successes.

His enemies, who were well got in political and military circles, hinted at a connection between his wealth and his failures to further conqueor the Irish (ie Irish land given/handed over to him, bribes and/or back-handers) and a charge of treason was brought against him, and Nick White was brought down, too, because of his association with Perrot ; two ‘witnesses’, a Dennis O’Roghan and a Henry Bird, gave ‘evidence’ that the two men, White and Perrot, had acted in a treasonous manner and both of them were locked-up in the Tower of London, where both of them died in 1592.

And the moral of the story : Britain has no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. Those that she builds up today can be tore down tomorrow. There are, unfortunately, no shortage of White’s and Perrot’s in every country who believe otherwise…


The following article was solicited by ‘IRIS’ from a political observer in the 26 Counties. The article – whose author, John Ward, is not a member of the Republican Movement – is aimed at provoking discussion within (P)Sinn Féin.

From ‘IRIS’ magazine, October 1987.

(‘1169’ comment – please note that ‘IRIS’ magazine had, at that time, recently morphed from a republican-minded publication into a Trot-type mouthpiece for a Leinster House-registered political party.)

There were two main reasons for (P) Sinn Féin’s poor showing in the recent election, one short-term and therefore no great cause for concern, the other longer term and more serious.

Last February, working-class voters were mainly concerned to get rid of the Coalition parties with their record of savage cuts in public services. They swung to Fianna Fail, though with no great enthusiasm, as the only party that could oust Garret Fitzgerald. And, of course, Fianna Fail, opportunist as ever, had plastered the place with posters saying‘Health Cuts Hurt The Old, The Sick And The Handicapped’.

By that sort of reckoning, (P) Sinn Féin did not count ; they certainly were not going to form a new government, they were not even likely to influence the formation of one and, indeed, if they took voters from Fianna Fail they might even make things easier for Fine Gael and the PD’s. They just were not regarded as being in the senior league at all, and that helps to explain why, in a number of Dublin constituencies, the (P) Sinn Féin vote was actually down a bit on the 1985 local elections and the overall percentage poll was under half the figure for the last EEC elections.

Those polls were not going to decide the next government so the people felt they could afford to indulge in a bit of protesting voting… (MORE LATER.)


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.

We simply must do our part. It may not be a spectacular part, it is not the role of the true Irish girl to be spectacular, but it is nevertheless a vital part.

None is more important than the mother. Many of the greatest men in every country and of every age, have attributed to their mothers their source of inspiration and help. It is the mother’s right and privilege to teach her children their first prayers, give them their first love, tell them their first stories and sing for them their first songs. The children depend on the mother for the first conception of a sense of values which will help them to live fully till the very end.

Irish children depend on her to give them a sense of pride in themselves, the custodian of the faith given to them through St Patrick, and of the tradition and beauty and culture of a race, once renowned for its sanctity and scholarship. And Irish mothers have a difficult task, because the foreign influence is so overwhelming and so penetrating… (MORE LATER.)

Thanks for the visit, and for reading,


About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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