Vol. 7: Keogh, Daire.

Type: Article

Keogh, Daire. ‘‘The most dangerous villain in society’; Fr John Martin’s mission to the United Irishmen of Wicklow in 1798’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 7 (1992), Pp 115-135.

This article discusses the activities of ‘rebel priests’ in the 1790’s and their involvement with the United Irishmen and the 1798 Rebellion. Keogh focuses on Father John Martin, a “curiously neglected” subject in the historiography of the Rebellion and one whose “position among the rebel priests of 1798 is unique, in that his United Irish background is beyond question and a clear record of his political philosophy and conscious role in the rebellion survives”. The article provides a summary of political movements leading up to the 1798 Rebellion: the influence of French Revolutionary ideals in Ireland among Catholics, the split within the Catholic Committee and the Presbyterian community and the formation of the United Irishmen in 1791. Keogh traces the rebel priest activities of Martin: his initiation to the United Irishmen in 1797 by two Franciscan friars, Patrick Duffy and James MacCarten; his rebel activities and discussions with Joseph Holt and the United Irishmen in Dublin; his capture, confession and incarceration in Kilmainham Gaol. Keogh discusses Martin’s confession—which denounced the United Irishmen and supplied the authorities with information to convict his comrades—and his escape from prison and subsequent disappearance. Includes a reprint of Father Martin’s confession.