CELT document E800002-044


Thomas Osborne Davis

Edited by D.J. O' Donoghue

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'Twixt Croghan-Kinshela and Hook Head, 'twixt Carnsore and Mount Leinster, there is as good a mass of men as ever sustained a state by honest franchises, by peace, virtue, and intelligent industry; and as stout a mass as ever tramped through a stubborn battle. There is a county where we might seek more of stormy romance, and there is a county where prospers a shrewder economy, but no county in Ireland is fitter for freedom than Wexford.

They are a peculiar people—these Wexford men. Their blood is for the most part English and Welsh, though mixed with the Danish and Gaelic, yet they are Irish in thought and feeling. They are a Catholic people, yet on excellent terms with their Protestant landlords. Outrages are unknown, for though the rents are high enough, they are not unbearable by a people so industrious and skilled in farming.

Go to the fair and you will meet honest dealing, and a look that heeds no lordling's frown—for the Wexford men have neither the base bend nor the baser craft of slaves. Go to the hustings, and you will see open and honest voting; no man shrinking or crying for concealment, or extorting a bribe under the name of “his expenses”.' Go to their farms, and you will see a snug homestead, kept clean, prettily sheltered (much what you'd see in Down), more green crops than even in Ulster, the National School and the Repeal Reading-room well filled, and every religious duty regarded.


Wexford is not all it might be, or all that, with more education and the life-hope of nationality, it will be—there is something to blame and something to lament, here a vice sustained, and there a misfortune lazily borne; yet, take it for all in all, it is the most prosperous, it is the pattern county of the South; and when we see it coming forward in a mass to renew its demand for native government, it is an omen that the spirit of the people outlives quarrels and jealousies, and that it has a rude vitality which will wear out its oppressors.

Nor are we indifferent to the memories of Wexford. It owes much of its peace and prosperity to the war it sustained. It rose in '98 with little organisation against intolerable wrong; and though it was finally beaten by superior forces, it taught its aristocracy and the government a lesson not easily forgiven, to be sure, but far harder to be forgotten—a lesson that popular anger could strike hard as well as sigh deeply; and that it was better to conciliate than provoke those who even for an hour had felt their strength. The red rain made Wexford's harvest grow. Theirs was no treacherous assassination— Theirs no stupid riot—their's no pale mutiny. They rose in mass and swept the country by sheer force.

Nor in their sinking fortunes is there anything to blush at. Scullabogue was not burned by the fighting men.

Yet, nowhere did the copper sun of that July burn upon a more heart-piercing sight than a rebel camp. Scattered on a hill-top, or screened in a gap, were the grey-coated thousands, their memories mad at burned cabins, and military whips, and hanged friends; their hopes dimmed  p.364 by partial defeat; their eyes lurid with care; their brows full of gloomy resignation. Some have short guns, which the stern of a boat might bear, but which press through the shoulder of a marching man; and others have light fowling pieces, with dandy locks—troublesome and dangerous toys. Most have pikes, stout weapons, too; and though some swell to handspikes, and others thin to knives, yet, for all that, fatal are they to dragoon or musketeer if they can meet him in a rush; but how shall they do so? The gunsmen have only a little powder in scraps of paper or bags, and their balls are few and rarely fit. They have no potatoes ripe, and they have no bread—their food is the worn cattle they have crowded there, and which the first skirmish may rend from them. There are women and children seeking shelter, seeking those they love; and there are leaders busier, feebler, less knowing, less resolved than the women and the children.

Great hearts! how faithful ye were. How ye bristled up when the foe came on, how ye set your teeth to die as his shells and round-shot fell steadily; and with how firm a cheer ye dashed at him, if he gave you any chance at all of a grapple. From the wild burst with which ye triumphed at Oulart Hill, down to the faint gasp wherewith the last of your last column died in the corn fields of Meath, there is nothing to shame your valour, your faith, or your patriotism. You wanted arms, and you wanted leaders. Had you had them, you would have guarded a green flag in Dublin Castle, a week after you beat Walpole. Isolated, unorganised, unofficered, half-armed, girt by a swarm of foes, you ceased to fight, but you neither betrayed nor repented. Your sons need not fear to speak of Ninety-eight.


You, people of Wexford, almost all Repealers, are the sons of the men of '98; prosperous and many, will you only shout for Repeal, and line roads and tie boughs for a holiday ? Or will you press your organisation, work at your education, and increase your political power, so that your leaders may know and act on the knowledge that, come what may, there is trust in Wexford?

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Title (uniform): Wexford

Author: Thomas Osborne Davis

Editor: D.J. O' Donoghue

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Electronic edition compiled by: Beatrix Färber

proof corrections by: Beatrix Färber

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2. Second draft.

Extent: 2220 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2008

Date: 2011

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E800002-044

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Notes statement

O'Donoghue states that this essay was reprinted as 'Memorials of Wexford', and that is the title used by Rolleston.

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  • First published in The Nation, 26 July, 1845.

Editions of this text; other writings by Thomas Davis

  1. Thomas Davis, Essays Literary and Historical, ed. by D. J. O'Donoghue, Dundalk 1914.
  2. Thomas Davis: selections from his prose and poetry. [Edited] with an introduction by T. W. Rolleston. London and Leipzig: T. Fisher Unwin (Every Irishman's Library). 1910. [Published in Dublin by the Talbot press, 1914.]
  3. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (ed.), Thomas Davis, the memoirs of an Irish patriot, 1840-1846. 1890.
  4. Thomas Osborne Davis, Literary and historical essays 1846. Facsimile reprint, with an introduction by John Kelly, 1998, Washington, DC: Woodstock Books.
  5. Essays of Thomas Davis. New York, Lemma Pub. Corp. 1974, 1914 [Reprint of the 1914 ed. published by W. Tempest, Dundalk, Ireland, under the title 'Essays literary and historical'.]
  6. Thomas Davis: essays and poems, with a centenary memoir, 1845-1945. Dublin, M.H. Gill and Son, 1945. [Foreword by an Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera.]
  7. Angela Clifford, Godless colleges and mixed education in Ireland: extracts from speeches and writings of Thomas Wyse, Daniel O'Connell, Thomas Davis, Charles Gavan Duffy, Frank Hugh O'Donnell and others. Belfast: Athol, 1992.

Selected further reading

  1. Arthur Griffith (ed.), Thomas Davis: the thinker & teacher; the essence of his writings in prose and poetry. Dublin: Gill 1914.
  2. William O'Brien, The influence of Thomas Davis: a lecture delivered by William O'Brien, M.P., at the City Hall, Cork, on 5th November 1915. Cork: Free Press Office, 1915.
  3. Johannes Schiller, Thomas Osborne Davis, ein irischer Freiheitssänger. Wiener Beiträge zur englischen Philologie, Bd. XLVI. Wien und Leipzig, W. Braumüller, 1915.
  4. Michael Quigley (ed.), Pictorial record: centenary of Thomas Davis and young Ireland. Dublin [1945].
  5. Joseph Maunsell Hone, Thomas Davis (Famous Irish Lives). 1934.
  6. M. J. MacManus (ed.), Thomas Davis and Young Ireland. Dublin: The Stationery Office, 1945.
  7. J. L. Ahern, Thomas Davis and his circle. Waterford, 1945.
  8. Michael Tierney, 'Thomas Davis: 1814-1845'. Studies; an Irish quarterly review, 34:135 (1945) 300-10.
  9. Theodore William Moody, 'The Thomas Davis centenary lecture in Newry'. An t-Iubhar (=Newry) 1946, 22-6.
  10. D. R. Gwynn, O'Connell, Davis and the Colleges Bill (Centenary Series 1). Oxford and Cork, 1948.
  11. D. R. Gwynn, 'John E. Pigot and Thomas Davis'. Studies; an Irish quarterly review, 38 (1949) 145-57.
  12. D. R. Gwynn, 'Denny Lane and Thomas Davis'. Studies; an Irish quarterly review, 38 (1949) 15-28.
  13. N. N., Clár cuimhneacháin: comóradh i gcuimhne Thomáis Daibhis, Magh Ealla, 1942. Baile Átha Cliath (=Dublin) 1942.
  14. K. M. MacGrath, 'Writers in the

    Title (periodical): Nation

    , 1842-5.' Irish Historical Studies 6, no. 23 (March 1949), 189-223.
  15. Christopher Preston, 'Commissioners under the Patriot Parliament, 1689'. Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 5th ser., 74:8 (1950) 141-51.
  16. W.B. Yeats, Tribute to Thomas Davis: with an account of the Thomas Davis centenary meeting held in Dublin on November 20th, 1914, including Dr. Mahaffy's prohibition of the 'Man called Pearse,' and an unpublished protest by 'A.E.', Cork 1965.
  17. Theodore William Moody, 'Thomas Davis and the Irish nation'. Hermathena, 103 (1966) 5-31.
  18. Malcolm Johnston Brown, The politics of Irish literature: from Thomas Davis to W. B. Yeats. Seattle (University of Washington Press) 1973.
  19. Eileen Sullivan, Thomas Davis. Lewisburg, New Jersey: Bucknell University Press, 1978.
  20. Mary G. Buckley, Thomas Davis: a study in nationalist philosophy. Ph.D. Thesis, National University of Ireland, at the Department of Irish History, UCC, 1980.
  21. Giulio Giorello, "A nation once again": Thomas Osborne Davis and the construction of the Irish "popular" tradition. History of European Ideas, 20:1-3 (1995) 211-17.
  22. John Neylon Molony, A soul came into Ireland: Thomas Davis 1814-1845. Dublin 1995.
  23. Robert Somerville-Woodward, "Two 'views of the Irish language': O'Connell versus Davis." The History Review: journal of the UCD History Society, 9 (1995) 44-50.
  24. John Neylon Molony, 'Thomas Davis: Irish Romantic idealist'. In: Richard Davis; Jennifer Livett; Anne-Maree Whitaker; Peter Moore (eds.), Irish-Australian studies: papers delivered at the eighth Irish-Australian Conference, Hobart July 1995 (Sydney 1996) 52-63.
  25. David Alvey, 'Thomas Davis. The conservation of a tradition.' Studies; an Irish quarterly review, 85 (1996) 37-42.
  26. Harry White, The keeper's recital: music and cultural history in Ireland, 1770-1970. (Cork 1998).
  27. Joseph Langtry; Brian Fay, 'The Davis influence.' In: Joseph Langtry (ed.), A true Celt: Thomas Davis, The Nation, rebellion and transportation: a series of essays. (Dublin 1998) 30-38.
  28. Joseph Langtry, 'Thomas Davis (1814-1845).' In: Joseph Langtry (ed.), A true Celt: Thomas Davis, The Nation, rebellion and transportation: a series of essays. (Dublin 1998) 2-7.
  29. Patrick Maume, 'Young Ireland, Arthur Griffith, and republican ideology: the question of continuity.' Éire-Ireland, 34:2 (1999) 155-74.
  30. Sean Ryder, 'Speaking of '98: Young Ireland and republican memory'. Éire-Ireland, 34:2 (1999) 51-69.
  31. Gerard Kearns, 'Time and some citizenship: nationalism and Thomas Davis'. Bullán: an Irish Studies Review, 5:2 (2001), 23-54.
  32. Ghislaine Saison, 'L'écriture de l'histoire chez la Jeune Irlande: quelle histoire pour une nation du consensus et de la réconciliation?' In: Centre de recherche inter-langues angevin, Écriture(s) de l'histoire: Actes du colloque des 2,3 et 4 décembre 1999. (Angers 2001) 435-46.
  33. Ghislaine Saison, 'Thomas Davis et la nation irlandaise'. Cercles, 4 (2002), 121-31.
  34. Helen Mulvey, Thomas Davis and Ireland: a biographical study. Washington, D.C., Catholic University of America Press, 2003.

Davis, Thomas Osborne (1914). ‘Wexford’. In: Essays, literary and historical. By Thomas Davis. Centenary edition, including several pieces never before collected‍. Ed. by D.J. O Donoghue. Dundalk: Dundalgan Press, pp. 362–365.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  author 	 = {Thomas Osborne Davis},
  title 	 = {Wexford},
  editor 	 = {D.J. O Donoghue },
  booktitle 	 = {Essays, literary and historical.  By Thomas Davis. Centenary edition, including several pieces never before collected},
  publisher 	 = {Dundalgan Press},
  address 	 = {Dundalk},
  date 	 = {1914},
  pages 	 = {362–365}


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Creation: by Thomas Davis

Date: July 1845

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Keywords: literary; prose; 19c

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  1. 2011-08-01: Conversion script run; header updated; new wordcount made; file parsed. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
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  3. 1996: Text captured by scanning. (ed. Audrey Murphy)

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