The Kellys and the O'Kellys eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 530 pages of information about The Kellys and the O'Kellys.

I. THE TRIAL

During the first two months of the year 1844, the greatest possible excitement existed in Dublin respecting the State Trials, in which Mr O’Connell, [1] his son, the Editors of three different repeal newspapers, Tom Steele, the Rev. Mr Tierney—­a priest who had taken a somewhat prominent part in the Repeal Movement—­and Mr Ray, the Secretary to the Repeal Association, were indicted for conspiracy.  Those who only read of the proceedings in papers, which gave them as a mere portion of the news of the day, or learned what was going on in Dublin by chance conversation, can have no idea of the absorbing interest which the whole affair created in Ireland, but more especially in the metropolis.  Every one felt strongly, on one side or on the other.  Every one had brought the matter home to his own bosom, and looked to the result of the trial with individual interest and suspense.

[Footnote 1:  The historical events described here form a backdrop
to the novel.  Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) came from
a wealthy Irish Catholic family.  He was educated in
the law, which he practiced most successfully, and
developed a passion for religious and political
liberty.  In 1823, together with Lalor Sheil and
Thomas Wyse, he organized the Catholic Association,
whose major goal was Catholic emancipation.  This was
achieved by act of parliament the following year. 
O’Connell served in parliament in the 1830’s and was
active in the passage of bills emancipating the Jews
and outlawing slavery.  In 1840 he formed the Repeal
Association, whose goal was repeal of the 1800 Act
of Union which joined Ireland to Great Britain.  In
1842, after serving a year as Lord Mayor of Dublin,
O’Connell challenged the British government by
announcing that he intended to achieve repeal within
a year.  Though he openly opposed violence, Prime
Minister Peel’s government considered him a threat
and arrested O’Connell and his associates in 1843
on trumped-up charges of conspiracy, sedition, and
unlawfule assembly.  They were tried in 1844, and all
but one were convicted, although the conviction was
later overturned in the House of Lords.  O’Connell did
serve some time in jail and was considered a martyr
to the cause of Irish independence.]

Even at this short interval Irishmen can now see how completely they put judgment aside, and allowed feeling and passion to predominate in the matter.  Many of the hottest protestants, of the staunchest foes to O’Connell, now believe that his absolute imprisonment was not to be desired, and that whether he were acquitted or convicted, the Government would have sufficiently shown, by instituting his trial, its determination to put down proceedings of which they did not approve.  On the other hand, that class of men who then styled themselves Repealers are now aware that the continued

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The Kellys and the O'Kellys from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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