#OTD in 1803 – Robert Emmet is captured and arrested by the British.

Robert Emmet is captured in Dublin following a hopelessly unsuccessful attempt at insurrection. Sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, he was executed 20 September 1803.

The ill-planned insurrection ended in utter confusion. The Wicklow contingent never arrived; the Kildare men retired thinking the rising had been postponed; while the men at Broadstairs waited vainly for the signal. Wearing a green and white uniform, Emmet marched with a small band against Dublin Castle. On the way they encountered the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Kilwarden, and his nephew, pulled them from their carriage and murdered them. Realizing the cause was lost, Emmet escaped and hid in the Wicklow Mountains. He then moved to Harold’s Cross to be near his fiancée, Sarah Curran, with whom he hoped to escape to America. 

He cemented his place in Irish history with his speech from the dock where he said:

“Let no man write my epitaph; for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance, asperse them. Let them and me rest in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed, and my memory in oblivion, until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then and not till then, let my epitaph be written. I have done.”

Emmet’s burial place is unknown.

Read | Robert Emmet’s Speech From The Dock

Image | Robert Emmet statue, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin

Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.