ROSSA, O’Donovan. Rossa’s Recollections. 1838 to 1898. Childhood, boyhood, manhood. Customs, habits, and manners of the Irish people. Erinach and Sassenach – Catholic and Protestant – Englishman and Irishman – English Religion – Irish Plunder. Social life and prison life. The Fenian movement. Travels in Ireland, England, Scotland and America.


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New York, O’Donovan Rossa, 1898. Crown octavo. pp. 492. Blue cloth, titled in gilt. A near fine copy. Scarce.
Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa (Irish: Diarmaid Ó Donnabháin Rosa) was born at Rosscarbery, County Cork, in 1831. In 1856 founded the Phoenix National and Literary Society “for the liberation of Ireland by force of arms.” He was jailed in 1858, accused of plotting the Fenian Rising in 1865, tried for high treason, and sentenced to penal servitude for life. He was imprisoned in Pentonville, Portland and Chatham Prisons in England where, for eight years, he suffered inhumane and cruel treatment at the hands of the prison authorities. In 1869 he was elected to Parliament for Tipperary but his election was declared void because he was imprisoned.
O’Donovan Rossa was released in 1871 and exiled to America where he edited the New York edition of ‘United Irishman’ and published ‘Prison Life’ (1874); ‘Irish Rebels in English Prisons’ (1882) and ‘Recollection. 1838-1898’. O’Donovan Rossa raised £40,000 for the Fenian movement and funded the Holland submarine project. He died in New York in 1915 and his body was returned to Ireland for a hero’s burial with Pádraic Pearse reciting his famous oration at the graveside.
When Pearse gave this oration on 1st August, he gave notice of the nationalist unrest: “Life springs from death - and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! - they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”.
This is a detailed account of Rossa’s life experiences, tracing his early boyhood growing up on his grandfather’s farm in Renascreena, his thirteen-year imprisonment for his involvement in the Fenian movement, and finally his exile to America, where he continued his activities in support of Irish independence. In this epic memoir he tells of learning the Irish language as a child, of sitting around turf fires and hearing tales of fairies and battles, of landlords seizing the wheat crop for rent when the potato crop failed, and of his family being evicted from their home. Through it a portrait emerges of Ireland in the mid- to late 1800s, revealing what life was truly like for the Irish people. It is surprisingly readable account.

[L4 2C]


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