On Friday September 20th, 1803, Robert Emmet was hanged and beheaded by Executioner Thomas Galvin in Thomas Street, in front of St. Catherine’s Church, before a crowd of up to 45,000 people.

Each year the Emmet and Devlin Memorial Association (of which I am a founding member) remembers this tragic event and places a wreath in commemoration at the foot of the commemorative plinth which stands there today.

Philip Emmet (descendant of Robert Emmet’s brother Thomas who was exiled to the United States) placed the wreath, as he has done on many previous occasions. Master of Ceremonies was Aidan O’Hara, and the day was organised by Frank Connolly – both founder members of the Association.

A large crowd turned up to remember Robert, and Aidan briefly outlined the events of that day 211 years ago before Philip Emmet laid the wreath and a minute's silence was observed in memory of a brave young man.

After the wreath-laying we all repaired to St. Catherine’s Church for a talk by Cllr. Mary Hanafin, who delivered the keynote address at this commemoration.

In her talk, Cllr. Hanafin urged Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan T.D. ‘not to consign History to history’, and to protect history as a core subject in the new Junior Cycle syllabus.

"The memory of our forefathers – including James Connolly, James Larkin and others important to the Labour Party – can be kept alive in the minds of the next generation by protecting History as a subject. The choice rests with the Minister for Education" Cllr Hanafin said.

Speaking on the topic History – a thing of the Past?’ she urged Minister O’Sullivan not to be bound by the mistake of her predecessor, Ruairí Quinn, who proposed removing History as a core subject at Junior Cycle level.

"History gives students a sense of identity, develops citizenship, shows the relationship between current and past events, and fosters an appreciation of diverse traditions and cultures" Cllr Hanafin said.

The new proposals for Junior Cycle envisage only three compulsory subjects - Irish, English and Maths. Cllr Hanafin said the inclusion of History in this list “would give students the skills of critical thinking, analysis, and the ability to distinguish fact from fiction, and truth from prejudice.

In the future, are Robert Emmet and Anne Devlin to be simply street names? Will Michael Collins be solely a film character, or did Game of Thrones really happen?" she asked.

"If 12-year-old students are faced with a choice of subjects, the pressure will be to select a language for university entry, science for employment opportunities, technology for the digital economy, and business for

entrepreneurship. History will suffer, and so will our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in" Cllr Hanafin added.

She claimed that the option of taking history as a short course would lead to a lack of context or international setting, asking “How, for example, can the 1916 Rising be understood without referring to World War l or the Home Rule Bill?

Without a knowledge of history, we cannot fully appreciate literature from Yeats to McCann. In an increasingly globalised world, our history is part of what distinguishes us from others. Many of the problems in Israel, Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere are rooted in the past, but without a sufficient knowledge of history, our understanding for today and tomorrow is limited.

Every education system in Europe, with the exception of England and Albania, requires students to take history until the age of 15. The removal of compulsory history in England led to a class and gender divide in those who chose it, and they are currently trying to reverse the decision. Minister O’Sullivan could learn from their mistake. We constantly bemoan the lack of study of women in history. Minister O’Sullivan can make her own mark on history by making it a core subject and giving it the status it deserves" Cllr Hanafin concluded.

Cllr. Hanafin’s remarks were applauded by all present, and the support for them was obvious in the questions and discussion that followed.

All then repaired to nearby Arthur’s Pub on the invitation of landlord Declan McKiernan for light refreshments, where the discussion continued in an informal and very welcoming setting for some time.

More photos and further information on the Kilmainham Tales website at www.kilmainhamtales.ie

Views: 317

Tags: Commemoration, Dublin, Emmet, Galvin, Irish Freedom Struggle, Kilmainham, Robert

Comment by Don Gray on September 22, 2023 at 8:00am

                                                       Kilmainham Gaol located in Dublin, Ireland
I took this photo on a trip to Ireland in 2008.
William Wickham, the spy who investigated Nicholas Gray, Thomas Cloney, and Robert Emmet, was a British civil servant and politician who was a founder of the British foreign secret service. Wickham was tasked with investigating the conspiracy and with the capture and interrogation of Emmet and his lieutenants. Before leaving his prison cell for the last time, Robert Emmet wrote to the Chief Secretary Wickham giving an account of his motives and thanking him for his fair treatment he had received. It was a letter Wickham was latter to refer to as his "constant companion."  Wickham proposed that had he been an Irishman, he "should most unquestionably have joined him."  Wickham ended his career in government service in 1804, resigning his post in Ireland where, privately he denounced policies as "unjust" and "oppressive".  To friends he declared that "no consideration upon earth" could induce him "to remain after having maturely reflected on the contents of Emmet's letter".  Emmet had been attempting to save Ireland from "a state of depression and humiliation."[6]  William Wickham, the British spy was haunted by remorse for the rest of his life for his part in the death of Emmet. 
The United Irishmen continued their relationships in the United States.  Gray was in contact with Alexander Denniston and Thomas Traynor  " who made an extraordinary escape out of the Castle. He is now here and is well, all of his family are well also, they live about 10 miles from here." [7]  Nicholas Gray writes that Thomas Addis Emmet, has been like a father to him and his family since arriving in the United States.  Nicholas Gray borrowed money from Mr, Emmet of New York, to help with expenses for his trip to the Mississippi Territory.  Thomas Addis Emmet was Robert's older brother and was held at Kilmainham in 1798.  Gray had numerous friends while living in New York along with Emmet, seven Republican members of Congress requested "the particular patronage of the president" for Gray.  Alexander Denniston recommended Nicholas Gray for appointment as Colonel of the Irish 27th Infantry Regiment in a letter to James Madison, dated February 12, 1815.  Nicholas Gray is now in the process of moving to the Mississippi Territory, where he will encounter such individuals as Irish Surveyor Thomas Freeman and General Andrew Jackson.  
Richard V. Barbuto in his newly released book titled "New York's War of 1812"  describes Nicholas Gray as being brought to life.  He writes "the state's military operations were no doubt enhanced by refugees from the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland. Officers such as Nicholas Gray, Alexander Denniston, and James McKeon served competently in positions of responsibility and danger." Irish writer Seamus Cullen in his book "The  Emmet Rising in Kildare" has a chapter dedicated to Nicholas Gray.
Nicholas Gray was a young attorney from Wexford, when he was sentenced to be executed after the 1798 Rebellion.  Gray and his brother-in-law, Henry Hughes, were very fortunate to escape death.  Captain James Boyd interceded for a pardon and saved Gray's life. They had been friends since Gray's childhood, and he had served as a Yeomen under Captain Boyd.[1]  During the 1798 Rising, Nicholas  Gray was instrumental in saving the lives of many loyalists in Wexford including his brother Joseph, a Magistrate and Captain in the Wexford militia, who is my direct ancestor.[2]  
Nicholas Gray, while serving as Inspector General of New York, during the War of 1812,  suffered from every article of consumption due to his harsh treatment at Kilmainham and Wexford Goal prisons in Ireland. Gray describes his time at  Kilmainham Prison,  August 12th, 1804.  " Mr. Gray can give an affecting detail of Mr. Trevor's [Dr Edward Trevor] barbarous treatment of him, both in Kilmainham, and in Buckridge-court, Ship-street.


You need to be a member of The Wild Geese to add comments!

Join The Wild Geese

The Wild Geese Shop

Get your Wild Geese merch here ... shirts, hats, sweatshirts, mugs, and more at The Wild Geese Shop.

Irish Heritage Partnership

Start a Business Today!

Adobe Express:
What will you create today?


Extend your reach with The Wild Geese Irish Heritage Partnership.

Congrats to Our Winners

© 2023   Created by Gerry Regan.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service