John Mitchel (1815 - 1875)

John MitchelJohn Mitchel

John Mitchel was born, the son of a Unitarian minister and United Irishman, in Dungiven Co.Derry on 3rd November 1815. He was educated in Trinity College, Dublin,before taking employment in solicitors' offices in Newry and later Banbridge, Co.Down. In 1837, he married Jane Verner.

This Young Irishman was a man of considerable literary talent, and as a consequence he began contributing to a newspaper known as the The Nation.This gave him an opportunity to passionately describe the lives of the greats of Irish history as well as detailed accounts of pivotal moments in this country's history.

However, John Mitchel's hatred of British rule led him to form The Irish Confederation in 1846. Mitchel grew impatient, and in 1848 published the first edition of The United Irishman. But because of his outspoken views expressed in this publication, John Mitchel faced trial for teason-felony and was found guilty. He was subsequently sentenced to fourteen years in Van Diemens Land (now known as Tasmania).

In 1853 he escaped to America. Here he published his now famous Jail Journal, in which he expressed his views on the homeland. But John Mitchel's views on Ireland and significant American issues did not endear him to everbody. Eventually John Mitchel returned to Ireland where he twice successfully stood for election as MP. But as a convicted felon he was unable to take up his seat. On 20th March 1875 John Mitchel passed away in Dromalane, Newry, Co. Down.

John Mitchel is perceived to be one of the most underestimated figures in nineteenth-century Irish history, and his influence can be seen in the philosophies of Griffith and Pearse.