Random Ramblings from a Republican
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Historical Summary Account - The Funeral of '48 Rebel TB MacManus

Terence Bellew MacManus was born to a traditional Fermanagh family who immigrated from Ireland to Liverpool. He would return to Ireland in 1843 to join the Repeal Association and the Young Irelander Party. During the Young Irelanders' short uprising in 1848, MacManus joined Smith O'Brien and John Blake Dillon at Ballingarry, County Tipperary, where the only sustained combat took place. For his part in the Rising, he was sent to the British penal colony of Tasmania. Within two years of his arrival, he had his escape planned. He and a few comrades, including a future American Civil War hero, Thomas Francis Meagher escaped via a ship headed for the coast of California. Upon arriving in San Francisco, he settled in the large Irish community and lived out his days.

When MacManus died towards on January 15, 1861, the Irish community of San Fran, who had grown to respect and love this man, funded his trip back to the land he loved most: Ireland. His extended funeral procession was the most effective fundraising means imaginable at that time. Any town with a sizable Irish population demanded the funeral pass thru on its way to Boston.

These stops along the train tracks and dusty roads of rural America fed the Fenian Brotherhood and Clann na Gael with both funds and fresh recruits. The demand to hold memorials for this man in every town along the way was so great that it took nearly 10 months for his coffin to reach Boston harbour.

Arrangements for further processions once the body reached Ireland were made. The Church made a failed attempt to stop these memorials from happening, but the Fenian show of strength and support in Cork City was breathtaking and quashed any hope of shutting them down. Nearly the entire population of the city and surrounding areas showed up to be a part of this man's funeral procession.

The coffin then traveled north to Dublin, where the major procession had been planned. On November 10th, 1861, an estimated 200,000 people showed up for the final trip of the Young Irelander. 50,000 men marched in military formation while a greater number lined the streets. Included along the way were numerous stops to tell the tales of hallowed spots of great fallen Irishmen. These included the church in front of which Emmet was hanged, the house where Tone's body was prepared before its burial, and the house where Lord Edward Fitzgerald was shot.

The church again tried to quell this open spurning of its authority and refused to allow the body to rest in any church or to give the dead man any funeral rites. But Father Patrick Lavelle, a previously secretive Fenian, defied Archbishop Cullen and openly performed the funeral ceremony. It was dark by the time MacManus' coffin was laid in the ground in Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery.

This funeral helped to cement in the minds of many the true case for Irish independence from Britain. It also helped to expose the large amount of support at home and abroad for the cause of Irish nationalism. It was very much akin to the funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa.

The quote below taken from The Wild Geese website:

"I think it no exaggeration to say that the funeral seems to me to be something in its kind unparalleled, or, at least, only to be compared with the second burial of the great Napoleon. But, in the last-named pageant, the power and resources of a great nation were called into action, while the MacManus funeral was the unaided effort of a populace trampled on or expatriated."

-Fenian Thomas Clarke Luby 
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