Coming on the year 1860, the men of Skibbereen took up the threads of the organisation that were let slip thru the arrest of the Phoenix men of '58. We met James Stephens in Bantry, and Mr Dan McCartie, Morty Moynahan, and I with the Bantry men, Denis Cullinane, and some others went in Denis O'Sullivan's yacht to Glengarriffe, where we had dinner at Eccles' Hotel. Stephens paid for the dinner. Sailing thru Bantry bay, Stephens was smoking a pipe. I remember his taking the pipe in his hand and saying he would not give the value of that dudeen for the worth of Ireland to England after the death of the Queen Victoria; that she, in fact, would be the last English reigning monarch of Ireland.
I don't know if he is of that opinion today. I do not know did he speak that way that day in Bantry bay, from the strong faith he had in the success of his own movement. Anyway, the way he always spoke to his men seemed to give them confidence that he was able to go successfully thru the work that was before him, and before them. That was one of his strong points, as an organiser.
About the beginning of the year 1861, a letter from Jason O'Mahony of Bandon, announce to us that he and John O'Mahony would be in Rosscarbery on a certain day. Dan McCartie, Morty Moynahan and I went to Ross in Moynahan's coach. We met them; they had come to town in Banconi's long car. James O'Mahony returned to Bandon, and John O'Mahony came on to Skibbereen in our coach. He remained in town a few days. We called in from the country some of the most active workers we had in the organisation, and introduced them to him. He was very much taken with the McCarthy-Sowney Centre, who told him he would not be satisfied with getting back his lands from the English, without getting back also the back rents that the robber-barons had been drawing from his people for the past 200 years.
That was the first time I met John O'Mahony. He made the impression on me that he was a man proud of his name and of his race. And I liked him for that. I liked to see an Irishman proud of his people. It is seldom you will find such a man doing anything that would disgrace any one belonging to him. In my work of organising in Ireland, I felt myself perfectly safe in dealing with men who were proud - no matter how poor they were - of belonging to the "Old Stock". I trusted them, and would trust them again.
Three years ago, in the summer of 1894, I was traveling with Michael Cusack, John Sarsfield Casey )since dead), and some others, by the Galtee Mountains, from Mitchelstown to Knocklong. We stopped at a village called Kilbehenny. We strolled into the graveyard, and there I saw a large tomb, on the top slab of which were cut the words:
"THIS IS THE TOMB OF THE O'MAHONY'S"
That was the tomb of John O'Mahony's family. Some days after, I stood within the walls of the ruins of Muckross Abbey in Killarney, and there I saw another tomb, (just like the one in Killbehenny) on which were graven the words:
"THIS IS THE TOMB OF THE O'DONOGHUES."
That was the tomb of the family of the O'Donoghue of the Glens. That showed me that in old Irish times John O'Mahony's family had the same standing among the people as the other family. In those graveyards, I thought of that Shane O'Neill of Tyrone who, when offered and English title, said he was prouder of the title of "The O'Neill" than of any title England could give him.
**More tomorrow: J. O'Donovan Rossa's memory of T. Bellew McManus' funeral.