Cody: The Insurrection of Twenty-Third July, 1803

Pdf Cody, Henry Brereton Cody, The Insurrection Of Twenty-Third, July 1803, Dublin: Gaisberry And Campbell,
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Henry Brereton Cody (died 1830) was the author of The Insurrection of Twenty-Third July, 1803 published in the wake of Robert Emmet’s abortive rebellion. The book recounts the events leading up to the events of 1803 and attempts to give an ideological justification for the British suppression of the separatist rebels. It has been described as a travesty by subsequent Irish writers and historians for its bias against Irish nationalist republicanism.

The inspiration for the Irish rebels was the 1776 American Revolution and the 1789 French Revolution. American colonists, many of British and Anglo-Irish Protestant descent, fought a successful rebellion against British rule and created a modern democratic republic, the United States of America.

In France , the educated middle class overthrew the nobility, executed King Louis XVI and proclaimed a French Republic. Anglo-Irish Protestants in Ireland led by Henry Grattan used the threat of force from the Irish Volunteers, a Protestant militia purportedly set up to defend the island from French invasion, to leverage the English for greater Irish parliamentary freedom.

A group of liberal Anglo-Irish Protestants formed the Society of United Irishmen hoping to unite Catholic, Protestant and dissenter. However when England went to war with France, the United Irishmen went underground and evolved into a secretive separatist republican revolutionary organisation.

An invited French invasion force was prevented from landing at Bantry in 1796 by poor weather. However the United Irishmen eventually launched a rebellion in 1798. Southern Catholic rebels captured many important towns in Leinster and while Northern Protestant rebels seized towns in Ulster but both were defeated with heavy loss of life by British troops. The fighting degenerated into sectarian warfare between Catholics and Protestants.

A French force landed in Connaught was also defeated and leading rebel, Theobold Wolfe Tone was captured when his ship was intercepted. Many of the leaders were betrayed by informers, arrested and executed or fled seeking refuge in America and France . Tone committed suicide in prison. In 1800 the Act of Union was passed creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and abolished the Irish Parliament.

The 1803 rebellion leader Robert Emmet (1778-1803) came from a wealthy Anglo-Irish Protestant family and was educated in Trinity College , Dublin . His brother Thomas Addis Emmet (the future New York Attorney General 1812-13) had been involved in the 1798 rebellion while WolfeTone had visited the family home.

After the failure of the rebellion, Robert Emmet avoided arrest and went to Europe seeking French military aid. Unsuccessful, he returned to Ireland in 1802 and began planning a new rebellion with veteran United Irishmen Thomas Russell and James Hope. It was hoped that other rebels still holding out in Wicklow and Kildare since defeat in 1798 would join an uprising in Dublin .

On the 23rd July 1803, Emmet marched with a small group of assembled rebels through Dublin aiming to capture Dublin Castle , the seat of government in Ireland . However the rebel force quickly grew into an uncontrollable mob and the rebellion degenerated into a violent riot on Thomas Street . Emmet fled as a dragoon was dragged from his horse and killed. Lord Chief Justice of Ireland , Lord Kilwarden was pulled from his carriage and hacked to death. The riot was eventually quelled by the military with about twenty military and fifty rebels killed in total.

Emmet went into hiding, was apprehended in August and tried for treason in September, 1803. At his trial he made a famous speech from the dock defending his actions that would inspire generations of Irish republican revolutionaries. He was publically hanged and beheaded on 20th September 1803 at Thomas Street , Dublin .

Henry Brereton Cody was a journalist, dramatist and songwriter. He was of Anglo-Irish Protestant stock and pro-Unionist in outlook. It is said he operated as a government spy conspiring to defeat the republican rebels, many of whom came from his own class. He was the editor of a government mouthpiece, The Warder and was loathed by Irish nationalists for his anti-Napoleonic play The Burning of Moscow (1813). He wrote other plays on pro-unionist themes. When King George IV visited Dublin he wrote the official ode of welcome. He is also credited with writing the popular song Sprig Of Shillelagh. He died in 1830.


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