The repeal association had been formed by O’Connell and up and down through the country “monster” meetings were being held. Members were recruited into the association throughout the length and breadth of the land. The repeal funds were climbing in their deposits.
O’Connell, now man in his late sixties, was devoting every ounce of energy to the movement. His followers made sure everything he went that the demonstration was most representative and edifying.
A branch of the “Repeal” was formed at Charleville, and very early in time arrangements were made for the holding of a “monster” meeting in the town. O’Connell was invited; the date was fixed for Thursday, May 18th, 1843. Reading of those meetings, a striking feature which readily presents itself, is the rigid control O’Connell was capable of holding over those massed throngs.
Scarcely any “monster” meeting was of less than 100,000 people. With his characteristics vehemence, O’Connell was capable of bringing their excitement to fever pitch; one word, and they would be rabid, blood-thirsty, blood-seeking avengers; one other word of reprimand, and they were a moving mass of pacifists, as meek as lambs and sheep closing in on their shepherd. Yet the Government were ever nervous of those repeal gatherings. As one newspaper at the time stated, why should they not be?
“Are not these O’Connellites of 1843 the sons of the hanged and unhanged villains of that murderous and memorable year ’98; and how can the shoot be better than the stock?”
The equal and size of the meeting of May 18 was never seen since or before at Charleville. The Charleville unit turned out to a man, headed by their pastor Very Rev. Dr. Croke ( uncle of Archbishop Croke). They were joined by the men of Newtown headed by the Rev. E Cotter, P.P, and the Rev. James McCarthy, with a band playing national air;
Next inorder were the following units. Men from Kilbolane and Freemount headed by the Rev. Robt. O’ Riordan, P.P., and the Rev. Wm. Cosgrave, C.C.; kanturk led by Mr. Robt. Mc Carthy with his band; Rockhill, Colmanswell and Bruree headed by the Rev. Jmaes ryan, P.P., and “that staunch and steady patriot Michael Ryan, Esq. Of Bruree Lodge” and Mr. David Hartigan. Then followed contingents from Cecilstown and Bally clough headed by the rev. Fathers McSweeney and Sullivan; Effin headed by Father Nagle, P.P. and father Blake, with Mr. Robt. Walsh, P.W. leading the band which “was most effective, and their bearing sturdy and independant;”
Kilfinane headed by the Rev. Fathers Burke and Kennedy, with Michael O’Riordan leading their band “which was likewise admirable.”
At this point the ballyhea men swung into view led by Fathers Power and Murphy, with Messrs, J. McDonnell and E. Fitzgibbon, volunteers. Then followed Ballingarry headed by Father Jmaes Hogan. Next came the following groups, Dromin, “a majestic division” led by Father Tuohy, P.P, and Father Hanrahan, with John duhig, R.W.; Ballygran headed by Rev. J O’Flannagan, P.P., and William O’Connor of Drewscourt.
Mallow were next in line led by their respected pastor, the Very Rev. Dr. Collins, with Fathers McCarthy and Barry; also Messrs. R.B Barry, – Butler, and W. Williams, volunteers.
“The ancient fame of Mallow”, quotes a newspaper report, “was excellently sustained by the appearance of these men, and their band rent the air with the Rakes of Mallow”
The “Patriots of Rathkeale” came next led by Rev. Daniel Syan hayes and Mortimer McCoy; Bruff followed, being headed by Fathers Shanahan and Mackey with Dr. Sweeney, Inspector of Repeal Wardens, leading a band, Feenagh, led by Father Mullowney, P.P. and Edmund Irvie, Esq.; Ashford led by Father Henry Fitzgibbon, P.P and David Leahy with his band Drumcollogher and Broadford headed by Father Quaid, P.P., with David Kelly and Philip Burton.
Among the last units were Patrickswell led by Father O’Rourke, P.P and Father Scott, C.C and Croom headed by Father O’Shea and M. O’Flaherty leading the band. Those who accompanied the “Liberator” were Thomas Steele, Head Pacificator of Ireland in the uniform of a volunteer, and William O’Mahoney of Dublin. As already stated, a state of tension always prevailed wherever those “monster” meetings were being held.
Kindly donated by: Eamon Power.