Irish rebel to be remembered this Sunday

REMEMBERING the death of Irish exile Thomas Francis Meagher 150 years ago will be theme of two speeches at historic St John’s Catholic Church at Richmond this Sunday. Thomas Francis Meagher, a famous Irish nationalist, was convicted for sedition sent into political exile in Van Diemen’s Land in 1849.

While in Tasmania he married a Derwent Valley girl, Catherine Bennett, and had a child to her, Henry Emmet Fitzgerald, who died in infancy. The baby’s grave lies next to the entrance of St John’ Church in Richmond.

Meagher escaped from Tasmania and fled to the United States, where he later became a colourful Union General in the American Civil War.

His Derwent Valley wife travelled to Britain, Ireland and was reunited briefly with Meagher in the US but then, sick and pregnant, she returned to Ireland, gave birth to a second child named Thomas after his father, and died a week later. The child was raised by Meagher’s family.

Meagher remained in the US, remarried and, after the Civil War, became Governor of the then Territory of Montana, where he died in July 1867 under mysterious circumstances.

Two Tasmanian historians and authors will be revealing aspects of this extraordinary story at St John’s Church from 2pm this Sunday, August 27.

Reg Watson will talk about Meagher’s life from Ireland to Tasmania and to Montana. Dr Christina Henri will discuss unknown aspects of his life and her involvement in producing bonnets on the Meagher family’s behalf.
These bonnets will be blessed by Father Terry Rush, priest of St John’s.

An entry donation of $5 will include afternoon tea in the church hall following the lectures. There, Mr Watson will be launching the new edition of his book, The Life and Times of Thomas Francis Meagher, which will be for sale and signing.

“The historic Richmond church is very apt for the event,” Mr Watson said. “The then priest, Father Dunne, was a strong supporter of Thomas Francis Meagher.”

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