Posts Tagged ‘1798’

Arthur O’Connor: ‘The most important Irish revolutionary you may never have heard of’

27 November 2009

Contributed by Clifford D. Conner

My new biography of Arthur O’Connor advances the claim that he was the most important leader of the United Irishmen in the era of the Great Rebellion of 1798. But histories of the Rebellion have traditionally either mentioned Arthur O’Connor only in passing or not at all. It is almost as if books about the Russian Revolution were to neglect mentioning Lenin.

Why is O’Connor’s name not more familiar? The best-remembered figures of this critical era are Theobald Wolfe Tone and Lord Edward Fitzgerald. But in 1798, if officials of the British government were asked who they considered to be Public Enemy Number One, or if French government officials were asked to identify the primary Irish revolutionary with whom they were collaborating, all would have replied without hesitation, “Arthur O’Connor.”

In trying to focus attention on O’Connor’s contributions, it is definitely not my intention to downplay or undermine the historical reputations of Wolfe Tone and Lord Edward. But I continue to believe that the question of why they have been so well remembered and O’Connor has not is worth an answer. Read More