Thomas Francis Meagher was born in 1823 in Waterford, Ireland. He was educated at Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare and Stoneyhurst College, Lancashire, England. In 1844 he moved to Dublin with the intention of studying for the bar but he instead became involved in Daniel O’Connell’s Repeal Association. With his eloquent oration he became a popular figure in Dublin, his speeches ensured crowded halls wherever he went. Meagher and other members of the Repeal Association who wrote for The Nation became known as the Young Irelanders. In January 1847, Meagher, together with John Mitchel, William Smith O’Brien and Thomas Devin O’Reilly formed a new repeal association called the Irish Confederation. The following year, Meagher and O’Brien went to France to observe revolutionary events there and they returned with the tricolour of green, white and gold which forms the basis of the Irish flag to the present day. Influenced by events in France and the suspension of habeas corpus in Ireland, the Young Irelanders organised a failed rebellion. Meagher, Terence MacManus, O’Brien and Patrick O’Donoghue were arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. However due to public and international pressure the sentences were commuted to transportation to Van Diemens Land, Tasmania, Australia. Meagher escaped to the United States in 1852, settling in New York City where he founded two newspapers the Irish News and the Citizen .At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Meagher joined the Union Army, recruiting a full company of infantrymen to be attached to the 69th U.S. Infantry Regiment. Meagher was appointed Major and led the regiment into their first engagement at the First Battle of Bull Run in which he was wounded. He returned to New York and formed the Irish Brigade which he led with the rank of brigadier general in the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. After the war Meagher was appointed as Governor of the new Territory of Montana. In the summer of 1867, whilst travelling on the Missouri River, Meagher fell overboard, his body was never recovered. There is a fine statue of Meagher on horseback with sword raised in his home city of Waterford, Ireland.
Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source: http://www.exploringireland.net