Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa

Irish Republican Brotherhood member, editor (1831-1915)
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Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa (September 11, 1831June 29, 1915) was an Irish Fenian leader. Born at Rosscarbery, County Cork, in 1858 Rossa established the Phoenix Society which would later evolve into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). He was jailed numerous times for connections with the Fenian movement, and was finally exiled in 1871, sailing to the United States on board the Cuba with his friend John Devoy and three other exiles. Together they were dubbed the "Cuba Five".

Cuba Five - John Devoy, Charles Underwood O'Connell, Henry Mullady, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa and John McClure


  • With all their spies and detective agencies in every part of the world, the English government must be unable to get any really valuable information as to the movements of … Irish Republicans. Thousands upon thousands a year are spent upon secret police; and what is the result of it all? Explosions every other week.
    • United Ireland, 31 January 1885; quoted in Terrorism and Literature Chapter 12 - “Parliament Is Burning” by Deaglán Ó Donghaile ISBN 9781316987292
  • I proposed that it be called the "Phoenix National Literary Society" – the word Phoenix signifying that the Irish cause was again to rise from the ashes of our martyred nationality.
    • Shane MacThomais, "90th Anniversary Commemoration Booklet 1831-1915" (Parnell Publications, Parnell Sq, Dublin), p. 2
  • We are the most cosmopolitan race in the whole universe; but Irishmen should have a country; they have a right to the country of their birth. By the use and aid of one steel – the pen – our committee have taken possession of that right, and as their title one day may be disputed, I trust they will be able and willing to prove it by the aid of another steel – the sword.
    • Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, "Rossa's Recollections 1838 to 1898: Memoirs of an Irish Revolutionary" (Globe Pequot, 2004) ISBN 1 59228 362 4, p. 189
    • This statement was greeted with loud cheers.
  • This rooting out of the Irish people; this transplanting of them from their native home into a foreign land, may be all very well, so far as the young people are concerned; but for the fathers and mothers who have reared families in Ireland, it is immediate decay and death.
    • "Rossa's Recollections 1838 to 1898: Memoirs of an Irish Revolutionary", p. 143
  • The one enemy in the world that America has is England. But then, England is the great land of Christian civilization, and it may not be a thing to be much wondered at that our Americans whom we send to represent us in London become in a short time somewhat civilized, and learn to love those who hate them, bless those that curse them, and do good to those that persecute and calumniate them.
    • "Rossa's Recollections 1838 to 1898: Memoirs of an Irish Revolutionary", p. 232
  • It is in that English Parliament the chains for Ireland are forged, and any Irish patriot who goes into that forge to free Ireland will soon find himself welded into the agency of his country’s subjection to England.
    • "Rossa's Recollections 1838 to 1898: Memoirs of an Irish Revolutionary", p. 145-6

About him

  • He and his tyrannicide! I am in a mad fury about these explosions. If that is the new world! Damn O'Donovan Rossa; damn him behind and before, above, below, and roundabout; damn, deracinate, and destroy him, root and branch, self and company, world without end. Amen. I write that for sport if you like, but I will pray in earnest, O Lord, if you cannot convert, kindly delete him!


  • Rossa's Recollections 1838 to 1898: Memoirs of an Irish Revolutionary by O'Donovan Rossa. Published by Globe Pequot, 2004. ISBN 1-59228-362-4
  • Papers relating to O'Donovan Rossa and the Fenians are housed in the Archives of The Catholic University of America, American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, Washington, D. C.
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