Thomas Francis Meagher Celebrated
Stamp issued by An Post
On the 1st of July 1867 Waterford’s Thomas Francis Meagher went missing from a steamer and feared drowned in the Missouri River at Fort Benton, Montana USA.
An Post has issued a new stamp to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the ‘Father of the Irish Tricolour’ Waterford’s revolutionary and soldier, Thomas Francis Meagher.
The stamp was released on Thursday the 29th of June and was designed by Dublin design studio ‘WorkGroup’.
The stamp and a very collectable First Day Cover (FDC) are available from main post offices, at the stamp counters at Dublin’s GPO or online via irishstamps.ie.
Francis Meagher was born in Waterford. The family lived in what is now the Granville Hotel but later moved to a large house opposite the site on which the Waterford Treasures Museum is located. The building is now a restaurant called ‘Sabai’ at 15 The Mall.
In 1848, Meagher brought the flag which was later to become the flag of the Irish Republic, from Paris to his home city of Waterford. The flag was flown for the first time from the Wolf Tone Confederate Club on March 7th 1848 at 33 The Mall. Later that year Meagher led the Young Irelanders in their failed uprising.
Meagher explained the meaning behind the flag with the words:
“…I trust that the old country will not refuse this symbol of a new life from one of her youngest children. I need not explain its meaning. The quick and passionate intellect of the generation now springing into arms will catch it at a glance. The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the “orange “and the “green” and I trust that beneath its folds, the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood…”
Convicted of sedition for his role in the uprising, Meagher was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to transportation for life to Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania. In 1852 he escaped to the United States and settled in New York City where he was given a hero’s welcome and he settled down to study law and work as a journalist.
At the beginning of the American Civil War, Meagher joined the Union Army, eventually becoming a Brigadier General. He recruited the Irish Brigade from among the Irish immigrant community and they served with distinction throughout the war.
Meagher was appointed acting governor of the Montana Territory, at the end of the war, but drowned in the Missouri River in 1867 after falling from a steamboat at Fort Benton.
In Waterford, the first time the Irish Tricolour was flown is celebrated each year with the The 1848 Tricolour Celebration. The celebration is attended by ambassadors and visitors from America, Canada, France and Australia. A contingent from Meagher’s brigade the 69th Brigade also known as the fighting Irish are proud to visit Waterford every year for the celebration.
“I now bid farewell to the country of my birth – of my passions – of my death; a country whose misfortunes have invoked my sympathies – whose factions I sought to quell – whose intelligence I prompted to a lofty aim – whose freedom has been my fatal dream”.
Thomas Francis Meagher