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From: "TED MEEHAN" <>
Subject: [COTIPPERARY] Fr. Nicholas Sheehy & Ned Meehan in 1766
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2007 20:58:45 -0400
References: <>

Hi Scott,

In its era, this was a case which had great notoriety - or should I say,
infamy. (Riots even took place in Canada on "Sheehy Day" for 50 years
thereafter, among Irish emigrants, as is referenced in a book called "All
Donnellys Must Die".) Most scholars trace the beginnings of the Whiteboy
movement to this case, and the distingushed historian of the United Irishmen
(Theobold Wolfe Tone's group), Madden, begins his discussion of the United
Irishmen with this case. I can refer you to Google Books, where you can do a
search for Madden's United Irishmen. There are several volumes of his work,
and you will find a fairly exhaustive treatment of the case there. (By
downloading the book onto a CD, you can print it out later.) Thomas Power, a
Canadian historian who specializes in Irish history wrote a magnificent book
called "Land, Politics, and Society in 17th Century Tipperary". That also
has a good bit about this case. There are several other sources who offer
excellent info on it, and if you need additional references, let me know and
I'll send them. I am the direct descendant of the Ned Meehan who was
executed with Father Sheehy - seven generations removed. There is another
good treatment of the case in Coyningham's "Lives of Irish Saints". My
grandfather had told me about this case, when I was a young boy, and it has
always fascinated me. The family refers to Ned Meehan as "Blessed Ned". I
believe there was an effort to have both he and Fr. Sheehy canonized, which
ended after the fire at the GRO, when nearly all of the records were

----- Original Message -----
From: "Scott Humphrey" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2007 4:27 PM
Subject: Re: [COTIPPERARY] Sir Edmund Burke on the "judicial murders" of Fr.
Nicholas Sheehy & Ned Meehan in 1766

> It looks like this is or should be a well documented case. Is there one
> or two sources that focus on this or have this within? It sounds like
> you are familiar with this neighborhood but I didn't notice the specific
> church name or castle in the writing (I could have missed it in my
> scanning) and maybe fell before this noted event ("trial").
> Thanks,
> Scott
> On Sun, 29 Jul 2007 15:00:19 -0400 "TED MEEHAN" <>
> writes:
>> A brief summary of events leading to the execution of Fr. Nicholas
>> Sheehy & Ned Meehan... Sheehy was a highly respected (by the
>> Catholics) priest who stood up for justice to the lowly tenant
>> farmers. Hostile local officials sought to make an example of him -
>> and Meehan, a prominent local farmer. They first accused Sheehy of
>> being a French spy (he had been ordained in France). Then, they
>> charged Sheehy & Meehan with murder. Having no witnesses, these
>> officials bestowed gifts, money, and freedom upon an imprisoned
>> woman of ill-repute, a half-wit, and a horse thief - in exchange for
>> testimony against Sheehy & Meehan. Sheehy was the prime target, and
>> on the night before his execution Meehan was offered his life if he
>> would implicate Sheehy. Meehan refused to perjure himself and accuse
>> an innocent man - especially his friend and his priest. The next
>> day, the two were hung, and then cut down before they died. Their
>> torsos were then cut open, and entrails were pulled out before the!
>> ir dying eyes. Then their hearts were cut out and thrown into a
>> fire. Next, their heads, arms, and legs were cut off. All of this
>> happened before the horrified eyes of their families and friends.
>> The two heads were then mounted on pikes in front of the Clonmel
>> Courthouse, where they are said to have remained for 10 years,
>> before being stolen by their familes and buried with their remains.
>> Sir Edmund Burke, MP and leading intellectual of this late 18th
>> Century era, weighed in on the outrageous abuse of the law that
>> governed this judicial murder of two innocent men. Writing to one of
>> his associates in Tipperary named Charles O'Hara. On April 8, 1766,
>> he writes the following:
>> "I find you go on in Ireland plotting; alarming; informing; seizing;
>> and imprisoning as usual; What surprises me is to find by one or two
>> of your Letters, that you are little giving way to the ingenious Bon
>> ton of our Country. I see it is impossible totally to avoid it. You
>> seem to think, that if they do not discover the cause of their
>> distemper by the dissaction of Sheehy, they will leave off their
>> villainous Theories of Rebellion and Massacres. Sic notus Ulysses?
>> (Thus have you known Ulysses?) I hear they intend to poke the bowels
>> of a few more for further discoveries. Why had I connection of
>> feeling, or even of knowledge with such a Country! I am not sorry
>> that our schemes for it; for the present at least, will not do."[1]
>> Burke's outrage continued to grow as he became more
>> closely familiar with the specific details of the sham trial.
>> Writing again to Charles O'Hara on May 24, 1766, he declares, "We
>> are all in a Blaze here with your plots, assassinations, massacres,
>> Rebellions, moonlight armies, French Officers, and French money. Are
>> you not ashamed? You who told me, that if they could get no
>> discovery from Sheehy, they would cool and leave off their
>> detestable plot mongering? You think well of Ireland; but I think
>> rightly of it; and know, that their unmeaning Senseless malice is
>> insatiable; cedemus patria! (Save us from the state!) I am told that
>> these miserable wretches whom they have hanged, died with one Voice
>> declaring their innocence: but truly for my part, I want no man
>> dying, or risen from the dead, to tell me, that lies are lies, and
>> nonsense is nonsense. I wish your absurdity was less mischievous.
>> And less bloody. Are there not a thousand other ways in which fools
>> may mak!
>> e themselves important? I assure you, I look on these things with
>> horror; and cannot talk of such proceedings as the effects of an
>> innocent credulity. If there be an army paid, and armed, and
>> disciplined, and sworn to foreign powers in your country, cannot
>> Government know it by some better means than the Evidence of whores
>> and Horse Stealers. If these things be so, why is not the publick
>> security provided for by a good body of Troops and a stronger
>> military establishment? If not, why is the publick alarmed by such
>> senseless Tales? But I know not why I reiterate such stuff to you;
>> every company here is tormented with it - adieu! It is late; and I
>> am vexed and ashamed, that the Government we live in, should not
>> know those who endanger it, or who disturb it by false alarms; to
>> punish the one with knowledge and vigour; or to silence the other
>> with firmness. Adieu."[2]
>> The Great Statesman's last written allusion to the
>> atrocity was in another letter . to O'Hara on November 27, 1767. In
>> that letter, he is discussing a debate on whether the Army should be
>> augmented in Ireland in which he was involved in Parliament, and
>> says,
>> "Conway replied that there was such an intention; that an Army was
>> so far from a matter of uneasiness to the Gentlemen of Ireland, that
>> they liked it; that augmentation probably would not be opposed there
>> and that he thought it desireable and necessary; because the Country
>> was, in a great degree Catholick, and therefore a rotten part of the
>> British Dominions. After I spoke my mind about N. America, I spoke
>> to the subject of an Army in general ; expressed my own particular
>> liking of it; considered it as interwoven with the Irish
>> consitution; and admitted the truth of Mr. C's observation on the
>> Temper of Gentlemen of that Country with regard to that object; but
>> that this general liking had no relation to the quantum of the Army.
>> That liking an Army, and liking new Taxes were different things; and
>> that I did apprehend many would dissent from the augmentation. As to
>> the rottenness of the Country; if it was rotten, I attributed it, to
>> the ill policy of Government towards the body!
>> of Subjects there. That it would well become them, to look into
>> the state of that Kingdom; especially on account of a late Black
>> and detestable proceeding there, which reflected infinitely either
>> on the justice or the policy of the English Government in running
>> and putting to death many for carrying on a rebellion at the
>> instigation of France, whilst the throne assured us we were in the
>> most profound peace with that Nation. I laid this heavy on the
>> ministries (without regard to any) at these periods; I was not
>> answered; and the thing dropped. This I thought right to tell you,
>> lest some lies should be circulated, as it is likely there may on so
>> proper a Subject for Slander."
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> -------
>> [1] Correspondence of Edmund Burke, Volume I p. 245
>> [2] Ibid p. 255
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "TED MEEHAN" <>
>> To: <>
>> Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2007 2:39 PM
>> Subject: Re: [COTIPPERARY] awards and cemetery history
>> > This would be Father Nicholas Sheehy, martyred on March 15, 1766 -
>> along
>> > with Ned Meehan. There is a shrine to Father Sheehy at Shanrahan
>> Cemetery
>> > where he had been Parish Priest until his death.
>> >
>> > Ted
>> >
>> > ----- Original Message -----
>> > From: "Scott Humphrey" <>
>> > To: <>
>> > Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2007 1:16 PM
>> > Subject: Re: [COTIPPERARY] awards and cemetery history
>> >
>> >
>> >> Has anyone had the need or are they familiar with research and/or
>> history
>> >> of the Shanrahan Cemetery (between Ballyporeen & Clogheen)?
>> >>
>> >> It's an interesting site with local individuals within having
>> interesting
>> >> history as I was told (priest having lost his head and it being
>> posted
>> >> for a decade or more). It has the ruins of an old RC church and
>> castle
>> but on earlier attempts I didn't find much on the cemetery or
>> features
>> >> within. If I knew the name of the above priest there might be
>> items on
>> >> him or related actions.
>> >>
>> >> Thank you,
>> >> Scott
>> >> On Fri, 27 Jul 2007 16:24:22 -0400 "Don Wixted"
>> <>
>> >> writes:
>> >>>
>> >>> Go to "Google" type in " Grants awards 2006 Local Heritage
>> ."
>> >>> Evidently different places in different counties were given
>> grants
>> >>> for various projects.
>> >>> I do know that surveying and recording of "Ballymackeogh"
>> >>> graveyard(outside of Newport),was to be completed by December
>> 2006.
>> >>> So far have not received any information. What is interesting
>> is
>> >>> this graveyard goes back to the 1700's.
>> >>>
>> >>> Diane
>> >>>
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