Thomas Francis Meagher

This is a lithograph print of Thomas Francis Meagher by Edwin Hayes, signed by Meagher and by the artist with a handwritten dedication which reads Thomas Francis Meagher, Member of the Irish Confederation, to Patrick Kiely, fellow citizen and dear friend, 23rd October 1848, Richmond Prison. Meagher while in prison along with the other Young Irelanders had the prints made for presentation to his friends and supporters.

Meagher was born in 1823 where the present Granville Hotel is situated on Waterford's quays, the son of the first Catholic mayor of Waterford for over 200 years because of the penal laws, a successful businessman who had returned from Newfoundland. Thomas Francis was educated like most wealthy Catholics of his time by the Jesuits at Clongowes, Co. Kildare and at Stonyhurst College in England, and then studied law. His nickname Meagher of the Sword dates from an impassioned speech he made in 1846 in favour of physical force when necessary to achieve independence from Britain. He brought the tricolour from Paris to Waterford, flying it in Ireland for the first time in March 1848 from the house on the Mall which housed the Wolfe Tone Club. Due to his involvement with the Young Ireland uprising in 1848 Meagher was arrested and tried for treason. This portrait as well as two signed books also in the Meagher display, date from then. Meagher was transported to Tasmania where he enjoyed considerable liberty and married a daughter of a gentleman named Bennett who had been a 1798 rebel.

Meagher escaped to America where he settled in New York, practised law and played a crucial role in defining Irish-American identity. His wife died in Waterford in 1854, leaving a son brought up in Waterford; he remarried in 1855.

date/period: 1848 A.D./19th century

collection: Waterford City Council

dimensions: 680 height x 50 width mm

material: paper, board

inventory no.: 1999.1793

location: Waterford Museum of Treasures exhibition

provenance: Gift in 2001

Further Reading:

  • Eamonn McEneaney (ed), A History of Waterford and its Mayors from the 12th to the 20th Century, Waterford 1995.
  • Robert G. Athearn, Thomas Francis Meagher: An Irish Revolutionary in America, Colorado 1949
  • Michael Kavanagh, The Memoirs of General Thomas Francis Meagher, Massachusetts 1892
  • W. Lyons, Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, New York 1886.
  • J. M. Hearne (ed), Thomas Francis Meagher - A Magnificent Obsession, forthcoming

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