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The Wearing of the Green, or The Prosecuted Funeral Procession   By: (1830-1884)

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[Transcriber's note: The spelling inconsistencies of the original are retained in this etext.]





Let the echoes fall unbroken; Let our tears in silence flow; For each word thus nobly spoken, Let us yield a nation's woe; Yet, while weeping, sternly keeping Wary watch upon the foe.

Poem in the "NATION."






The news of the Manchester executions on the morning of Saturday, 23rd November, 1867, fell upon Ireland with sudden and dismal disillusion.

In time to come, when the generation now living shall have passed away, men will probably find it difficult to fully realize or understand the state of stupor and amazement which ensued in this country on the first tidings of that event; seeing, as it may be said, that the victims had lain for weeks under sentence of death, to be executed on this date. Yet surprise indubitably was the first and most overpowering emotion; for, in truth, no one up to that hour had really credited that England would take the lives of those three men on a verdict already publicly admitted and proclaimed to have been a blunder. Now, however, came the news that all was over that the deed was done and soon there was seen such an upheaving of national emotion as had not been witnessed in Ireland for a century. The public conscience, utterly shocked, revolted against the dreadful act perpetrated in the outraged name of justice. A great billow of grief rose and surged from end to end of the land. Political distinctions disappeared or were forgotten. The Manchester Victims the Manchester Martyrs, they were already called belonged to the Fenian organization; a conspiracy which the wisest and truest patriots of Ireland had condemned and resisted; yet men who had been prominent in withstanding, on national grounds, that hopeless and disastrous scheme priests and laymen were now amongst the foremost and the boldest in denouncing at every peril the savage act of vengeance perpetrated at Manchester. The Catholic clergy were the first to give articulate expression to the national emotion. The executions took place on Saturday; before night the telegraph had spread the news through the island; and on the next morning, being Sunday, from a thousand altars the sad event was announced to the assembled worshippers, and prayers were publicly offered for the souls of the victims. When the news was announced, a moan of sorrowful surprise burst from the congregation, followed by the wailing and sobbing of women; and when the priest, his own voice broken with emotion, asked all to join with him in praying the Merciful God to grant those young victims a place beside His throne, the assemblage with one voice responded, praying and weeping aloud!

The manner in which the national feeling was demonstrated on this occasion was one peculiarly characteristic of a nation in which the sentiments of religion and patriotism are so closely blended. No stormy "indignation meetings" were held; no tumult, no violence, no cries for vengeance arose. In all probability nay, to a certainty all this would have happened, and these ebullitions of popular passion would have been heard, had the victims not passed into eternity. But now, they were gone where prayer alone could follow; and in the presence of this solemn fact the religious sentiment overbore all others with the Irish people. Cries of anger, imprecations, and threats of vengeance, could not avail the dead; but happily religion gave a vent to the pent up feelings of the living. By prayer and mourning they could at once, most fitly and most successfully, demonstrate their horror of the guilty deed, and their sympathy with the innocent victims... Continue reading book >>

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