Thomas Meagher: Forgotten Father of Thomas Francis Meagher


Eugene Broderick

Thomas Meagher is the biography of the father of one of Ireland’s most famous patriots, Thomas Francis Meagher. Overshadowed by his son, he was a man of deeply held political and religious principles, who, through his philanthropic works and political career, helped shape the character of nineteenth-century Ireland and deserves to be remembered in his own right.

June 2022

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Thomas Meagher: Forgotten Father of Thomas Francis Meagher is a biography of the father of one of Ireland’s most famous patriots. He emerges from his son’s shadow as a man of deeply held political and religious principles. Born in Newfoundland, Canada, he was to be heavily influenced by his experiences on that rugged island. He settled in Waterford in 1819 and quickly established himself as a champion of political and religious equality.

In 1842 he was elected Mayor of Waterford, the first Catholic to hold this office since the seventeenth century. Meagher served as an MP for the city from 1847 to 1857, and was a determined supporter of an independent Irish party to defend Irish interests at Westminster. A staunch follower of Daniel O’Connell, the age-old conflict between constitutional and revolutionary nationalism in Ireland was played out between him and his son, who was a leader of the 1848 Young Ireland rising. The fascinating and complex relationship between him and Thomas Francis is explored, presenting a very human story against the backdrop of political turbulence.

This book is the study of a man who was a significant representative of the Catholic middle class which helped shape the character of post-Famine Ireland, and who had the unexpected experience of having a rebel in his family.

Foreword by Ambassador Daniel Mulhall
Preface by Councillor Joe Kelly, Mayor of Waterford City and County
1 The Meaghers of Newfoundland, c.1780–1819
2 Waterford: The Early Years, 1819–1825
3 Towards Catholic Emancipation, 1826–1829
4 Politics, Philanthropy and Public Office, 1830–1842
5 Mayor of Waterford, 1843, 1844
6 Thomas Meagher: ‘Old Irelander’, 1845–1847
7 Famine, 1845–1848
8 Father and Son, 1823–1844: A Common Purpose
9 Father and Son, 1845–1847: Political Divisions
10 Two Elections, 1847, 1848
11 A Rebel Son, 1848–1849
12 Member of Parliament, 1847–1852: Land and Religion
13 Member of Parliament, 1852–1857: Independent Opposition
14 Faith and Family, 1847–1874


About the Author
Dr Eugene Broderick, a former secondary school principal, is modern history adviser to the Waterford Museum of Treasures and a member of its board. He has contributed to numerous publications and is the author of John Hearne: Architect of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland (2017), Patrons and Patterns: The Holy Wells of Waterford (2016), The Boycott at Fethard-on-Sea 1957 (2011), Intellectuals and the Ideological Hijacking of Fine Gael, 1932–1938 (2010), and Waterford’s Anglicans: Religion and Politics 1819–1872 (2009). He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

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