Born in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow. Her cousins, Michael Dwyer and Arthur Devlin, took part in the 1798 Rebellion. After the acquittal and release from Wicklow Gaol of her father in 1800, her family moved to Rathfarnham, Co Dublin, where she met Robert Emmet who was leasing a house in nearby Butterfield Lane from where he was planning his intended uprising. The constant coming and going of men and materials from the house worried Emmet who feared that the activity might arouse the suspicions of the authorities. As a consequence, Anne’s father Bryan was approached by Emmet for help and he suggested Anne’s sister would act as housekeeper in order to convey an impression of normality. But she was too timid so Anne volunteered instead.
“On the days of Mr. Emmet’s trial and execution (September 20th, 1803) I was kept securely locked in my solitary cell. I felt what I cannot describe. I plainly saw my position and was resolved to make the best I could of it. Sighs could do nothing for me and I was resolved to have none of them, as they would only please my persecutors… After the execution I was ordered into a coach which drove off rapidly to Birmingham Tower at the Castle. The jailer sat in front of me with a pair of pistols partly concealed. A soldier sat on each side of me with a drawn bayonet.
Coming down to St Catherine’s Church in Thomas Street, the coach stopped at a signal from the jailer. The windows were on a sudden let down. I looked out. Horror overcame me when I perceived the blood of Mr Emmet on the scaffold where his head had been cut off. Dogs and pigs were lapping up his blood from between the paving stones. In a few minutes more I was at Dublin Castle. The Secretary was soon with me and preached to me a feeling sermon, but it was lost on me.”
After the 1803 Rising Devlin was arrested and tortured but she refused to identify any of the insurgents and was imprisoned in solitary confinement for three years in a damp, underground cell in Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin. Anne Devlin’s entire family were also imprisoned and seven of them died in Kilmainham Gaol before her release. It is known that Devlin worked briefly as a lady’s companion before going into obscurity. Anne Devlin died in extreme poverty in the Liberties in 1851.
Featured image: Anne Devlin Sculpture by Clodagh Emoe, she is barefoot and gazing out to-wards the Dublin Mountains, and south to Wicklow where she was born in 1780.
Mural by MASER ART
Photo: Grave of Anne Devlin, Glasnevin, Dublin
Photo: Memorial plaque for Anne Devlin on the bridge at Aughrim in Co Wicklow