One stipulation, indeed, Mr O’Brien did make, that in coming to our assistance it was not implied that he was to be a candidate himself and that he was merely to deliver three speeches in Cork City to put the issue clearly before the people. Matters had now reached so grave a pitch that not only were Mr O’Brien’s own friends to be attacked by the “Board of Erin,” which was now in complete control of the machinery of the national organisation, but that every other Member of Parliament who had not bent the knee to its occult omnipotence was to be run out of public life without cause assigned. All this while there was rumour and counter-rumour about Mr O’Brien’s return. The Dillonites up to the last moment believed we were playing a game of bluff and went on right merrily with their preparations for making a clean sweep of every man who was “suspect” of possessing an independent mind. Then on one winter’s night, shortly before the election writs were issued, the doubters and the scoffers were once and for all confounded. Mr O’Brien arrived in the city which was always proud to do him honour, but which never more proudly did him honour than on this occasion, when they mustered in their thousands at the station and lined the streets, a frantic, cheering, enthusiastic and madly joyous people, to see him back amongst them once again, neither bent nor broken nor physically spent, but gloriously erect, acknowledging the thunderous salutations of the tens of thousands who loved him, even to the little children, with a love which was surely compensation for many a bitter wound of injustice and ingratitude.
A GENERAL ELECTION THAT LEADS TO A “HOME RULE” BILL!
It boots not to dwell at any great length on the contests that followed. Suffice it to say that Irish manhood and Irish honesty magnificently asserted itself against the audacious and unscrupulous tactics of the Party plotters. Mr O’Brien, by a destiny there was no resisting, was forced into the fight in Cork City and emerged victoriously from the ordeal, as well as winning also in North-East Cork. In my own case, except for the splendid and most generous assistance given me by Mr Jeremiah O’Leary, the leading citizen of Macroom, who shared all the labours and all the anxieties of my campaign, I was left to fight my battle almost single-handed, having arrayed against me two canons of my Church and every Catholic clergyman in the constituency, with two or three notable exceptions. The odds seemed hopeless, but the result provides the all-sufficient answer to those who say that the Irish Catholic vote can be controlled under all circumstances by the priests, for I scored a surprising majority of 825 in a total poll of about 4500, and I have good reason for stating that 95 per cent. of the illiterate votes were cast in my favour, although a most powerful personal canvass was made of every vote in the constituency by the clergy.