Patrick O'Brien.

Birth and adaption; online

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whisper ''fisper." Ireland has furnished the pulpit, the
bench and the bar with as brilliant material as has any
nation in the world, and yet Mr. Dooley makes fun of
Archbishop Farley's ancestors, and also of Recorder


Goff's, and Judge Fitzgerald's, and of Judge O'Ryan's,
of St. Louis, as well as of yours and mine. Tiiis must
be stopped, and stopped immediately, and you are the
very man to stop it. You can do it by publishing this
letter and sending the following people copies to distribute
among their friends : David McCosker, 20 Walker street,
New York; O'SuUivan Brothers, rubber heels, Lowell
Mass., 500 each ; Maurice O'Connor, 500 copies ; William
McCrystal, 500 ; Capt. Peter Kelly, Chicago, police, 500
copies ; Luke Lynch, Brooklyn, 500 ; James Cusick,
Brooklyn, N. Y., 500 ; also 500 to James Doyle, of Balti-
more; John O'Sullivan, R. M., Aurora, Neb., 500
copies; Mrs. John Howard, 500. None of these per-
sons mentioned will refuse taking 500 copies, and as
money talks this will put Dooley out of business on
general principles. — Pittsburg Observer.



A Fenian, He Was with the Raiders Into Canada and

Single-Handed Captured Pigeon Hill— He Has

Performed Many Daring Feats and Has

Been a Soldier in Many Climes.

Among Boston's recent distinguished visitors was a
man whose name is as remarkable as his personality
and who is widely known in Ireland and to many Irish-
men of this country. He is Mr. ''Rocky Mountain"
O'Brien, and is a hero of the celebrated Fenian upris-
ing of 1870.

He is perhaps most generally known for the auda-
cious feat of capturing a Canadian village single-
handed in those stirring times— it was the only town
that fell to either side, and O'Brien, accompanied by
one companion, rode into the hamlet of Pigeon Hill one
morning in May thirty years ago and demanded the
surrender of the town in the name of the Fenian
brotherhood and in the cause of justice. They told the
officers of the village that they had an army of 20,000
ready to march over the hill and destroy the settle-
ment if it were not immediately turned over to them,
including supplies, ammunition and arms, and confi-
dentially advised them to do it.

The town was surrendered, and, after holding it for
several hours as a spoil of war O'Brien and his com-
panion went forth to get their army, and discovered
^ that their cause was lost, their leader captured and
* thev were forced to fly in haste for their safety. The


town is still standing near the New York line and is
nominally waiting for the two daring Fenians to
return and claim it according to the articles of war, for
it has not been recaptured or formally given over by

''Rocky Mountain" O'Brien has performed many
daring feats in his career of adventure round the globe,
but none of them can compare with his capture of
Pigeon Hill, and he says that he is not done revolutioniz-
ing yet. He is a sworn enemy of the British flag, he
says, and can never forgive England's oppression of
his mother country.

At present he is a prominent citizen of Brooklyn,
N. Y., when he is at home. He is just now returning
from an extended tour in Europe, and has spent many
months in Ireland and England.

''Rocky Mountain" O'Brien was born near Bantry
Bay forty-nine years ago, and spent his youth near his
native place and saw many acts of injustice done
to his people, and while a very young man made up his
mind to strike back for the wrong done. His deter-
mination got the better of him one day and resulted in
an action that compelled him to flee from the country.

One morning he saw a bailiff and a policeman seize
the only cow belonging to a poor old man living near
him. The man had a family of seven to support and
the cow was their main prop. Young O'Brien was so
incensed that he raised an alarm among the neighbors
and headed a band which rescued the cow and soundly
belabored the officers of the Crown.


They recognized him and would have imprisoned him,
but to avoid prosecution he fled the country,
taking refuge on board a vessel bound for Rio
Janeiro. Then his adventures began; he has had
ups and downs all his life from the very start, but has
been very fortunate. From Rio Janeiro he gradually
worked his way across the Isthmus and up into the
United States.

He settled in the mining camps of the West, and
there lost the name of Patrick, with which he had been
christened, and acquired in its stead "Rocky Moun-
tain," which has stuck to him ever since and is now the
only title by which he is known. It was while he was
in the West that word came of the intended uprising
against England and the plan to strike the blow by
entering Canada. He came East at once and offered
his services in any capacity in which they would be

He was sent to Malone, N. Y., and there met Mosby,
a nephew and copartner of the famous Confederate
raider, and with him took charge of the formation of a
band of men who were to be assembled near the
border, at a place called Richardson's farm. O'Brien
and Mosby got their men there, about 500 in number,
all armed and ready to advance upon the arrival of the
proper authorities, and the commander, Capt. O'Neill,
the army officer who was in charge of the affair.

The subsequent happenings are now a part of his-
tory. O'Neill waited in vain for the 2,000 who were
coming from Boston, and finally decided to push on,
while O'Brien and Capt. Dennis Short advanced on


Pigeon Hill and captured that town for the Fenians
single-handed, about the only piece of good luck that
befell the small band of raiders.

Speaking of the affair, O'Brien says that there were
many hitches and that the lack of forces and the failure
of co-operation on the part of the troops from Boston
ruined the cause.

"We might have pushed forward and dealt a de-
cisive blow," said he, "but for the lack of enthusiasm in
many quarters. We had 20,000 of arms along the
border, which had been shipped up there as glass, and
were in readiness to be distributed to a very powerful
force. The redcoats were waiting for us, and when
the men advanced from Richardson's farm we were
surprised by a regiment, and in the few hours of hot
fighting that followed lost several men and were forced
to retreat.

"Then the United States authorities swept down on
us and gathered in O'Neill and one or two others. I
remember we were all standing in the road, when we
were startled by a shout to clear the way, and a team
of four horses and a coach dashed by us. I recognized
O'Neill sitting inside with two United States officers.
Some of the men Avere tempted to kill the horses and
rescue the leader, but cooler heads prevailed, and al-
though one or two shots were fired after the fleeing
coach, no damage was done. When O'Neill had been
taken away we were without a leader until Boyle
O'Reilly was prevailed upon to take charge." — Boston
Globe, December 22, 1902.



Lecture by Mr. Patrick "Rocky Mountain" O'Brien

in Skibbereen.

Last week Mr. Patrick O'Brien lectured in the Town
Hall, Skibbereen, on 'Ireland and Her Possibilities."
Mr. John Murphy, C. U. C, presided, and there was a
very large attendance, including Messrs. F. McCarthy,
N. C. C. ; T. Sheehy, U. C. : John Shea, Town Clerk, and
several others. Mr. O'Brien, who was enthusiastically
received, said in part :

"Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen :— This is the
first time I have had the distinguished honor of address-
ing an audience composed entirely of Irishmen and Irish-
women. I will attempt to convey to you an idea of the
Irish race in America as I found them during the period
of my sojourn there. I left your land (and mine) thirty
years ago and sought, beneath the glorious Starry Ban-
ner of the American Republic that freedom denied me
in my own country. [Cheers.] What I will say to you to-
night about the Irish race in that country is not romance,
remember, but facts that have come under my own obser-
vation, and bear in mind, ladies and gentlemen, I do not
pretend to be an orator; on the contrary, I am but a
poor excuse for one. You will, therefore, be kind
enough to grant me your indulgence for a short time,
and whenever you get tired of me, say so, and I shall


"In the year 1847, a few years before I was born, the
tide of emigration from Ireland commenced to flow.


caused by a so-called famine that year. Of course, many
of our people left for America; years before our people
also departed for America and distinguished themselves
in the Revolutionary War, fighting side by side with the
illustrious Washington, who was, as you know, of Eng-
lish extraction; but the greatest exodus was during the
years '47, '49, '50 and thence up to 1879. Now, about
the famine of '47. I maintain there never was a real
famine in Ireland. It was an artificial famine, caused
by the hirelings of hell and the gluttonous law dispensers,
who were so detrimental to our country. As you are
aware, the population of Ireland before the so-called
famine was 9,000,000. To-day she has about one-half
that number. Now, then, if Ireland could support
9,000,000 people previous to that artificial famine (which
was artificial in every sense of the word), and ship more
than half the products of her soil to England, how in the
name of God can any person face an intelligent audience
and say there was or is famine in Ireland? While our
people were dying by the roadside from starvation in
those years of which I speak, steamers were leaving the
'Cove of Cork' laden with beef and mutton for the
people who passed coercion laws for Ireland. The very
milk was scarcely cold from the cow when it was shipped
to England in refrigerators ; the eggs barely laid before
they found their way to English markets, and during all
this time our people were dying of hunger in the north
of Ireland, and in the County Donegal people were com-
pelled to eat foals. During this period our people were
buried in coffinless graves with more food leaving Ire-
land than was necessary to supply their wants. It is


too well known how our race has been persecuted since
the reign of Strongbow and the invasion of Oliver Crom-
well. Everything has been taken from us except our
good name and the virtue of our women. In telling
you about the Irish race in America, there is one class
of people I wish to call your, attention to in particular —
it is that of the Irish girls, or, if you choose to call them
so, domestics. Well, my friends, I would impress upon
the mind of every Irish mother in this audience to-night
who has a daughter in America, that that daughter is
a girl to be proud of, for under the canopy of Heaven
to-day, in any country or clime, a purer, more honest
or more noble soul does not exist, and the enemies of
our race admit that the brightest gem, the most sacred
and precious jewel an Irish girl possesses, is her virtue;
and I proclaim it here to-night, as I would proclaim it
before the Throne of God, that the fairest, gentlest
and best of women I have ever met are Irishwomen!
You may well be proud of your daughters. Irishwomen,
for I have found them to be like the wife of Julius
Caesar — above reproach. When an Irish gril leaves
home and bids a last farewell to her tender-hearted
father and loving mother, her heart is breaking, for she
is leaving the scenes of her once happy childhood to
wander in a strange land and is destined probably never
more to see those beloved parents, but she carries with
her her fond mother's advice, 'Attend to your religious
duties; go to your church on Sunday, no matter what
denomination you belong to, and keep away from bad
company.' These words are ringing in her ears from
the moment she sets foot on board the steamer that is to


bear her away, and the further from home she goes the
more determined she is to abide by the advice of her
fond mother and loving father, and she becomes pos-
sessed of a greater will power than ever before and is
fully determined never to bring the blush of shame to
the cheeks of a broken-hearted father and daily-weeping
mother. When she takes a last glimpse of the land
where first she saw the light she makes up her mind to
be true to her fatherland, come what will. I have met
Irish girls in every sphere of life during the many years
I spent in the United States, in the Republic of Mexico,
the Dominion of Canada and in the republics and prin-
cipalities in South America, and always felt proud of
them, no matter what their creed. I have known Protes-
tant Irish girls to assume the duties of their Catholic
comrades when they went to their places of worship,
and I have known Catholic girls to do the same for their
Protestant comrades. I will relate an incident that oc-
curred some ten years ago in the great State of Texas.
I was stopping at the Hotel Vendome in El Paso and
had a room on the second floor. It was about two o'clock
in the morning, when I was about to retire, that one ol
the colored porters asked the time, and I told him. 'My
God !' said he, *it is too late and too early.'

" 'What is the matter?' said I.

" 'Nothing, boss, only one of the chambermaids is dy-
ing, and I'm afraid that the two girls who went for the
priest cannot get him to come at this hour.'

" 'What is her name ?' I asked.

" 'Mary O'Donnell, boss,' said he.

"I knew from her name what her nationality was, and


became interested. Just at that moment a Catholic
clergyman appeared on the scene with the two girls
who went for him, both Protestants, both born in Ireland.
The girl recovered in a few days and was at her work
about the hotel before I left. I hope she is still living and
1 hope that the two Protestants are enjoying all the happi-
ness of this world, and I hope a place awaits them in
Heaven. [Cheers.]

"I could relate several other incidents similar to this,
but it would take too long. The Irish race, as you are
all aware, are scattered about like birds of the air. You
find them in every walk of life : in the army and navy,
on the bench and in the pulpit. I am now speaking of
the Irish race in other lands. The Republic of Chili
was founded by. an Irishman named O'Higgins. Peru
was founded by Lynch, also an Irishman. The present
President of the United States boasts of Irish descent.
The Irish settled in America when it was composed of set-
tlements, and one of the early governors of the colony of
New York was a man born in Limerick, Thomas
Dongan, the Governor who gave New York City its first
charter. The majority of the men who fought side
by side with Washington were Irish or of Irish descent.
[Loud applause.] General O' Sullivan, of Beare, was
aid-de-camp to Washington, and he was an Irishman's
son; so was Fitzgerald. Jeremiah O'Brien (who cap-
tured an English man-of-war) and his seven sons were
born in Skibbereen. [Cheers.] He fought the first sea
battle for American freedom. Jack Barry, a native of
Wexford, was a Commodore of the American Navy.
When George III.'s embassy offered him a bribe his



answer was simply this: 'I am a poor man, but go back
and tell your master that England is not rich enough to
buy me/ [Applause.] I saw the grave in St. Mary's
Cemetery, in Philadelphia, where Jack Barry is buried.
I also saw the grave, in Machiasport, Me., where Jere-
miah O'Brien is buried.

"Now, I must try to tell you something about the Irish
of the present in America. A great many people have
false ideas about America and think that it is only neces-
sary to go to New York and 'all will be fair sailing.'
But such, my dear friends, is not the case. America is
as hard a country for a person without friends or money
as there is in the world. I have seen our people on more
occasions than one without the price of a cup of coffee
(no fault of theirs), but whose proud spirit would not
allow them to make their wants known. I have known
men to land in New York and walk the streets for weeks
and to sleep in some one of the city parks for want of a
better place to lay their heads. What must be the man's
thoughts when suffering this way in a country with full
and plenty all around him ? I know a man who to-day is
one of the leading manufacturers in New York City and
who has visited Skibbereen on commercial business, who
had a similar experience. He landed in New York and
looked for work until his money was all gone, and before
he would tell any person his predicament he slept in one
of the public parks two nights (I have this from his own
lips). To-day, thank God! he is worth half a million
dollars, and there is not a man in New York who deserves
it more [Hear! Hear!], for he is a man and an Irishman.

"Remember, we have two classes in America: the
good and the bad — he belongs to the former.


"There is a class of Irishmen who land in America
with no more money than the law demands, and your
humble servant was one of them. Some of the men,
when they become rich, forget that they were ever poor,
and whenever they are asked to contribute anything for
poor old Ireland they ask in what paper will it be pub-
lished. These are few, thank God ! and the other class
outnumbers them enough to balance the scales in our
favor. The man who goes to America and earns a
decent living, and never forgets the old folks at home,
and as years roll by accumulates wealth, is always an
Irishman and is ready at all times to help a countryman
and to contribute to anything beneficial to his country.
As for the Irish girl, I need say nothing more, for I have
already said her generosity is known both in America
and Ireland. She always sends the best part of her
wages to her fond parents at home and is never back-
ward in contributing to every good cause.

'There is a six milHon dollar cathedral in New York
City, built from the wages of Irish boys and girls in New
York. [Loud cheers.] So were the convents and hospitals
and orphan homes. It is true some of the wealthy Irish-
men in America contributed, but before the millionaires
loomed up in the shadowy distance the Irish servant
girls gave money out of hard-earned wages, and may
God reward them for it— if not in this world, in the
next. [Hear! Hear!]

'There is a great deal, my friends, in the rearing of
children by their parents in America, but I am proud to
be able to state here to-night that in nine out of every
ten cases all the Irish mothers I met in the United


States reared their children in the old school and gave
them to understand they were sons and daughters of
the Sod. [Applause.]

"I was traveling late one night on horseback in the
Republic of Mexico when there were no carriage roads
where I was. It was a beautiful night in the month of
August and the moon was shining brightly. I was alone,
and let me tell you Mexico at night is not a very enviable
place. I was on my way to a mining camp, some twenty
miles distant, and not a human being was in sight. Sud-
denly I heard a voice in Spanish and two men on horse-
back quickly approached me and said: 'Comos tha mus?'
meaning 'How do you do?' I knew just about enough
Spanish to answer : 'Beau gracio, senor' — 'Well, thank
you.' I was little inclined to stop and talk to them, lest
they might enter into a Spanish conversation, of which
language I knew but little. I kept my finger on the trig-
ger of my revolver, determined to be ready if there were
to be any shooting done. [Cheers.] After they left me
they stopped to water their horses. I also stopped, but
was out of sight. Both wore heavy black beards. Soon
one of them said: 'Where is that fellow going?' The
other answered : 'I expect he is going to Wallace's mine,
that damned Yankee thieving company. I bet they will
dupe him, too, if he is not a member of the concern.'

" 'Perhaps he is the paymaster,' said the other. Then
the other man commenced to sing the following song:

" 'And although we are exiled children, no matter where

we go.
We won't give up the old land without another blow.'


I rode back to where they were watering their horses,
and, introducing myself, found them to be not Spanish,
for one was a genuine i8-karat Tipperary man and the
other a Devonshire Englishman, copartners in a large
cattle ranch forty miles distant in the interior of
Mexico. I remained at their place one week, and while
I was their guest they sang that same song more than
once. I afterward met them in the City of Mexico.
There was a great bull-fight in the city, and they asked
me to accompany them to the arena, but I said I did
not care to see such a brutal show, but they finally
prevailed upon me.

"1 must tell you that it is not two bulls that fight, but
a man and bull and sometimes a bull and a woman.
On this occasion the fighter was a man, and he killed
two bulls. He spoke nothing but Spanish all the time.
I bought his photograph. On the placards his name
was Barnado Garvano, but after the fight was over my
two friends introduced the celebrated bull-fighter to
me as Barney Gavin, a native of Westport, County
Mayo, Ireland. [Laughter and cheers.] He was in
the City of Mexico and spoke Spanish fluently. Such
is the history of an Irishman. He spoke Irish to us in
the hotel afterward. [Applause.] I was down on
Long Island, some ninety miles from New York City,
about sixteen years ago, spending a few weeks with
my poor wife and two children, when I was suddenly
called to New York on business. As I could get no
train until late in the evening I went to a livery stable
and hired a horse and buggy to drive to the next rail-
road station, twelve miles distant. The proprietor of


the stable sent a boy about ten years old to bring back
the horse and buggy. I asked the lad if he could drive,
and he said yes, but the horse being rather lively at the
time I took the reins from him. I saw by his face that
he did not like the idea of the reins being taken from
him, but I apologized to him by saying he was too
young to handle such a blooded animal.

"About four miles outside the town we happened to
pass a cemetery. I saw the lad looking at a newly-
made grave with tears in his eyes. 'Mister,' said he to
me, 'would you please allow me to visit my poor
mother's grave? That is, if you think you have suf-
ficient time ; if not I will not go.' I told him to go,
no matter what time it would be. He went, and I saw
him kneeling on his mother's grave. I must confess
I wept ! When he returned I asked him his name. He
replied, Patrick O'Flaherty. He said his father was
born in Cork and his mother in England. I shall never
forget the way he spoke of his dead mother. He told
me he never missed a Sunday without visiting her
grave, and I impressed upon his youthful mind the
necessity of so doing, and told him to continue in that
way. When I returned from New York I related the
circumstance to my wife, and she said that the boy
would prosper for remembering his mother. How
true was her prophecy ! To-day that boy is Mayor of
a town in Long Island, and he is happily married. He
never visits New York without calling on me. He always
refers to the incident of sixteen years ago. He told
me a few vears since that he had erected one of the finest


monuments in the cemetery over the grave where he
wept sixteen years before. [Cheers.]

"No man who ever went back on his parents was any
better for it, and I am sorry to say I have known Irish-
men in America to do so, but thank God '.-they are few.

''A great many people, unfortunately for themselves,
remain in the large manufacturing cities of Philadel-
phia, Boston and New York, instead of going farther
west to the prairies. But a number of our people land
with no more money than the law commands, hence
they must live where they land. I have found Irish
people in agricultural pursuits in the far West, espe-
cially California, very prosperous. It is true a great
many of our people have prospered in our large East-
ern cities, but the further away from the East the Irish-
man goes the better are his chances for success.

'The years I have spent in America have not taught
me to forget the persecutors of my race; they have
taught me to hate them. And as years roll on that
hate increases more and more, and is stronger than

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Online LibraryPatrick O'BrienBirth and adaption; → online text (page 12 of 13)