Monday, March 24, 2014: .The Ulster History Circle and Ulster-Scots Agency will unveil a blue plaque to
United Irishman James (Jemmy) Hope at Mallusk Cemetery The event will be attended by Mayor Fraser Agnew and local community representatives.
Jemmy Hope ( 1764–1847)
The man of no property
Calls for ‘the rights of man’ became increasingly strident in 1790-91.
The United Irishmen were jointly founded in Belfast and Dublin in October/November 1791 to achieve this goal through propaganda, persuasion and popular demonstration but were too bourgeois and moderate to attract James Hope’s interest.This changed in 1795 when the ruthless suppression of political dissidents and ‘dragooning’ of sections of the population deemed to be subversives transformed Irish society.
Ulsterman Jemmy Hope was a working-class United Irishman who was able to see and understand the social and economic basis of the 1798 struggle with a clarity and directness that many others were unable or unwilling to do. He was one of the few survivors of the 1798 and 1803 rebellions
“I was the bosom friend of Neilson, McCracken, Russell, and Emmet—I mean there was not a thought respecting public affairs that one of us, to the best of my belief, would conceal from the other, and for their truth I would answer with my life”
Here are a few of his thoughts taken from his autobiography. With very little tweaking (swop landlords for bankers for example) they still hold true today. Human nature never changes!!
Belfast was the cradle of politics in Ulster, of which the ideas held forth at their public meetings is a clear proof. The town of Belfast was the most corrupt spot on the face of the earth. The foundation of Ireland’s freedom was laid there by a few master spirits; and, although they now rest in death, their memory can neither die, nor be run down.
I remember when power was law, and physical force settled every question.Physical force may prevail for a time as we have seen it recently did in China and Afghanistan;
but there is music in the sound of moral force which will be heard like the sound of the cuckoo, The bird lays its eggs, and leaves them for a time; but it will come again and hatch them in due course, and the song will return with the season.
On Oaths and Secret Societies
there was a declaration to be made, and a test or, oath, to be taken, of which I did not approve. I lamented that we should shrink from an open declaration of our views, into conspiracy; that oaths would never bind rogues, that I would rather act openly, in which way of proceeding there was but one danger.
For at that time there was any money got for swearing; and in every district there were some men, who by taking contradictory oaths, became habituated to swear whatever any cause required, in which they were embarked; and although these were few in proportion to the mass, they were sufficient for the reign of terror, and there were still men of high rank among them
Volumes have been written, recording the crimes and cruelty of mankind, but the causes from which they spring is often overlooked, of which the circumstances in which men are placed appear to have a prominent share, and historians often have some reasons for avoiding their delineation, sometimes ignorance.
Let posterity observe the providential turn of affairs, how the sword that was drawn to put down moral force, now rusts in the scabbard by the operation of other powers, admonishing mankind to ascribe the retribution of evil to the true cause, The people’s cause was finally lost (at least in that struggle). It now only remained for the enemy to attack the memory of the dead, and the characters of the living, and to slander all who had dared to resist their cruelty.
In all our social relations, it is our duty to preserve the interests of every individual, so as to make the good of each contribute to interests of the people. This is the true science of politics; every deviation from it is replete with mischief to the masses.
The conduct of public men, of popular men in those times, convinced me that so long as men of rank and fortune lead a people, they will modify abuses, reform to a certain extent, but they never will remove any real grievances that press down the people. The leading politicians of our day are only balancing conflicting interests; and, whether for want of knowledge or want of will, they have never arrived at a rational view of the one general interest.
The landlord and tenant question demands the attention of every Irishman The landlord interest has been promoted at the expense of national and individual prosperity. Its maintenance has been the cause, not only of domestic plunder, but foreign aggression all over the globe, by sea and land, in the guilt of which every sane adult is more or less concerned, and liable to his share of retribution, unless he uses all the powers of his mind and body to prevent a recurrence of the evil.
A person called Atkinson, who lived in Belfast, and a low church clergyman near Lisburn (Philip Johnson), organized a faction of intolerant turbulent men into lodges, like Freemasons, called the Loyal Orange Institution.
It at first consisted of the bullies of certain houses in garrison towns, and those of fairs and markets in rural districts. Their July rites were duly observed by the sacrifice of numerous victims to the memory of King William the Third; The character of the Orange lodges was such that no man who had any regard for his character would appear in them;
Orangemen Murder Catholics with Impunity
the Orangemen of Dublin held their usual rejoicings on the 12th of July. A Catholic young man, named Ryan, passing through the street, was shot dead by a nailor named Shiels. Shiels was sought for, and proclaimed by the magistrates, but was concealed in the Royal Barracks.(Hope and the victim’s uncle pursue the finally ensure the murderer’s arrest) Shiels was committed to gaol in Navan, and from thence transmitted to Dublin Shiels was acquitted, and rewarded by government, Ryan was not his first victim.
We had traitors in our camp from the beginning to the close of the career of our society. The corrupt and the corruptible, of every circle, from the Giant’s Causeway to Cape Clear, were known to the despotism of that day, and regularly employed either as yeomen or spies.
Men I do not rank with the common herd of traitors were men who unthinkingly staked more than was really in them—they were like paper money, current for the time, keeping business afloat without any intrinsic value.
The National Question and Labour
It was my settled opinion that the condition of the labouring class, was the fundamental question at issue between the rulers and the people, and there could be no solid foundation for liberty, till measures were adopted that went to the root of the evil, and were specially directed to the restoration of the natural right of the people, the right of deriving a subsistence from the soil on which their labour was expended.
Every one employed in agriculture, manufacture, and instruction, is entitled to reward in proportion to his industry; and society must protect the person and property of every individual who does the duty assigned him. He who will not perform his duty, has no right to protection.
To hold up my hands for pardon to those who had imbrued theirs in the blood of my associates, seemed to me to carry with it a participation in the guilt of the blood of my brethren.
I could not join in any written or verbal acknowledgment of guilt, or solicitation for pardon to any human being. I resolved never to be taken alive; I knew no danger, but that of wilfully and knowingly doing wrong.
On the Runs, Off the Records (OTRs)
All remaining political prisoners were released and Hope’s wife Rose wrote to the Duke of Bedford to ascertain whether the government intended prosecuting her husband.
It transpired that Hope’s name was not associated with any capital charges and the family were consequently able to live openly for the first time in a decade. Remarkably, Hope’s comrades who made terms with the government after arrest divulged very little of his leading role in the Emmet conspiracy.
Ireland’s position in the world
Ireland was the eye of Europe— it required no naval protection; it was the connecting link in the chain of the commerce of the two hemispheres.
The power that has, through life, preserved me, is doing the work, to which my poor efforts were directed. It is farther in advance than I expected to live to see it. It is past the power of human resistance, to frustrate it. Its progress is employing every intelligent Irish mind. Every step throws fresh light on the subject, that engages it, whether of success or defeat. The mind of the nation lives and grows in vigour. Its object is still before it; and as one of its promoters sinks into the grave, another is still forthcoming. Even self-interest, that was so strong against the nation’s interest, is coming round to the latter. Hope for success, under all circumstances—have your heart. You may live to see Ireland what she ought to be; but, whether or not, let us die in this faith.
Erected to the memory of James Hope
One of nature’s noblest works – an honest man.
In the best era of his country’s history
A soldier in her cause.
And in the worst of times still faithful to it.
Joe Graham, Belfast historian and convinced United Irishman, founder of Rushlight Magazine, kindly put Jemmy Hope’s autobiography online. You can read the full story of Hope’s involvement in the Society of United Irishmen and the 1798 Rebellion in the links below.