A rousing and dangerous voice of the Fenian Rising, John Keegan Casey, died at the hangs of the Crown on St. Patrick's Day
John Keegan Casey, a central figure of the Fenian Rising, died on Saint Patrick’s Day 1870. His was a slow and lingering death. The Crown Forces were relieved. His enlightened and ‘dangerous’ voice would no longer be heard to arouse and inspire resistance and rebellion, and their treachery had worked.
As the weary thousands with grieving hearts shuffled their way out of Glasnevin Cemetry and headed for the highways and byways of their troubled land, they mourned for the loss of the much loved young visionary they had left behind to rest among the heroes of other days. They were grief-stricken but they were angry too.
They knew how and why he died. It wasn’t from the indignity of the hangman’s rope. It wasn’t from the honor of facing the firing squad. It was from a treacherous plot contrived by Britain’s Crown Forces to cast him into a torturous hellhole where the bright light of his gifted mind was cruelly quenched and where his handsome young body was broken by ill-treatment, starvation, and disease.
His was a slow and lingering death. The Crown Forces were relieved. His enlightened and ‘dangerous’ voice would no longer be heard to arouse and inspire resistance and rebellion. The pen that wrote the iconic rebel song 'The Rising of the Moon' would write no more. Their treachery had worked.
But although their hero was dead, Rebel Ireland was not. The struggle would go on and would only end when freedom was won when Ireland became the Independent Republic, and the last of Her Majesty’s Agents were banished forever from Her shores.
John Keegan Casey - teacher, poet, orator, Fenian, was gone, but the legacy he left behind sowed the seeds for other brave leaders to nourish and cultivate, and now almost 150 years on since that fateful and sorrowful Glasnevin day, those seeds have borne fruit, a rich harvest that we now enjoy, a victory that makes us proud to be Irish and forever grateful to the many brave martyrs like John Keegan Casey, that made it happen.
Read more: The tragic murder of 15-year-old Cailín Bán
* An excerpt from the new Biography of John Keegan Casey: 'The Bold Fenian Boy' by Paddy Cummins.
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