Theobald Wolfe Tone - 19.November.1798

Theobald Tone Wolfe dies 19.November.179819.November.1978 Theobald Wolfe Tone

When news of the outbreak of the United Irish rebellion in May 1798 reached the then exiled Wolfe Tone he once again set in motion plans for a French invasion of Ireland. Devastated and embarrassed by the failure of almost 15,000 French troops to land at Bantry Bay in 1796, Tone managed to secure a much smaller force to embark on an invasion two years later. On 16 September, Tone sailed with General Hardy and 3,000 men and reached Lough Swilly on the Donegal coast. However, they were no match for the English navy and the small French fleet was captured on 12 October.

Tone was taken prisoner to Dublin and tried by court-martial on 10 November. He appeared in his French uniform, was found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged, though he pleaded for a soldier’s death by firing squad. Early on the morning fixed for his execution, he was found with an opened artery in his neck and died on 19 November 1798. He was buried in Bodenstown churchyard near Clane in County Kildare.

Remembered as the ‘Father of Irish Republicanism’, for generations his grave has been a place of pilgrimage for nationalists and republicans. Speaking in Bodenstown in 1913, Patrick Pearse, one of the signatories of the 1916 proclamation, said of Tone that he was the ‘greatest of Ireland’s dead’. Of Bodenstown he said: ‘We have come to the holiest spot in Ireland, holier even than where Patrick sleeps in Down. Patrick brought us life but this man died for us’. Today, Bodenstown remains a place of pilgrimage for a number of Irish political parties who remember Tone’s vision

To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman, in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter, these were my means.

Freemans Journal 1798

 Source newspaper: Freemans Journal 1763-1924, Tuesday, November 13, 1798; Page: 3