Thomas Francis Meagher
Thomas Francis Meagher was born in what is now The Granville Hotel Waterford, Ireland in 1823; then the family home of his mother Alicia Quan and father Thomas Meagher, a union of two of the most prominent merchant families in Waterford. His father traded between Waterford and Newfoundland, Canada, and had made their wealth with the discovery of large shoals of cod off the coast of Newfoundland. Thomas Francis grew up in an atmosphere of wealth and privilege.
On becoming disillusioned by constitutional politics, he followed the course of rebellion with the Young Ireland Movement.
Thomas Francis Meagher was sent as a delegate to French Revolutionaries, but returned from Paris with no weapons and no money; however he did return with a symbol that was to prove more powerful than either – a flag modelled on the French tricolour and comprising three vertical bands – green symbolising the south, orange the north, and white for peace between these two traditionally warring factions. Flown first in 1848 from the Wolfe Tone Club in Waterford, and later from the GPO in Dublin during the Easter Rising in 1916, Meagher’s tricolour became the flag of the Republic of Ireland. (See 1848 Tricolour Celebration)
After the failure of the rebellion in Ireland in 1848 Meagher was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered, but this was commuted to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania, Australia). In 1852 he escaped to America, arriving in New York to a tumultuous welcome from his fellow-countrymen. In 1861 with the outbreak of the American Civil War he joined the 69th Regiment and subsequently he fused together five regiments of mainly Irish-Americans to form the famous Irish Brigade. He became Brigadier General and under his leadership the Brigade fought through some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War – Bull Run, Fair Oaks, Chancellorsville, Malvern Hill, Antietam and Fredericksburg. Following the war Meagher was appointed by Abraham Lincoln as Secretary and acting Governor of Montana, where a large statue of Thomas Francis Meagher stands before the Capitol Building in Helena.
Revolutionary, convict, military leader – Thomas Francis Meagher was too dramatic and inspiring a figure to die of old age……he simply disapperared.