1803 – James Napper Tandy, Irish patriot, dies in exile in France.

James Napper Tandy joined with a French contigent in a half baked effort to invade Ireland in 1798. The ragged group landed off the coast of Donegal for a short period before departing for Norway. Attempting to get back to France, he was arrested at Hamburg and ultimately delivered to the British authorities. He was tried in Dublin for complicity in the Insurrection of 1798, but was acquitted on a point of law. He was then sent to Lifford, and on 7th April 1801 was arraigned for his part in the attempted invasion. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to death. His life was saved through the intercession of Lord Cornwallis who said “considering the incapacity of this old man to do further mischief, the mode by which he came into our hands, his long subsequent confinement, and, lastly, the streams of blood which have flowed in this island for these last three years.”

His life was spared and he was forced into exile to France where he died in Bordeaux.

Tandy is a relatively minor figure in Irish politics, but his name lives on in Irish folklore mainly thanks to being mentioned in the song The Wearing of the Green.

O Paddy dear, and did ye hear the news that’s goin’ round?

The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground!

No more Saint Patrick’s Day we’ll keep, his color can’t be seen

For there’s a cruel law ag’in the Wearin’ o’ the Green.”

I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand

And he said, “How’s poor old Ireland, and how does she stand?”

“She’s the most distressful country that ever yet was seen

For they’re hanging men and women there for the Wearin’ o’ the Green.”.

Wearing of the Green, The Wolfe Tones: http://youtu.be/BKnmNll1AbM

NPG D12710; James Napper Tandy ('Napper Tandy') by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey


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