Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Founding Father of Canadian Confederacy - Carlingford's most famous son!
Carlingford's Thomas D'Arcy McGee Museum & Exhibition
Located in the Old Railway Station, the museum celebrates his life and how he grappled with the Irish "problem" in Ireland, in the United States, the Territories of Canada as colonies (just like Ireland) of Great Britain as an Irish Nationalist, American Publicist and Canadian Politician.
His vision prevailed over the Orange Order, the Fenians, the annexationists, Quebec secessionists and all other parochial visions. He helped build better than he knew".
The Thomas D'Arcy McGee Museum & Exhibition is open to the public 7 days a week - opening hours are the same as the Carlingford Tourist Office.
Coach Tours and Group Tours are most welcome, to arrange tour bookings please call us at 042 9373033.
There is no entry fee to the exhibition
Below, we provide a little insight to Thomas D'Arcy McGee, a brief biography and some historical facts about Carlingford's most revered & famous resident.
Thomas D'Arcy McGee was born in Carlingford, Ireland on the 13th of April 1825. The son of James McGee and Dorcas Catherine Morgan. While he was still a child, the family left Carlingford and moved to Wexford, where he received an informal education.
In 1842, McGee left Ireland and travelled to North America where he joined the staff of the Boston Pilot, a Catholic newspaper. Two years later, at the age of 19, he was editor of the paper, using his position to lobby for Irish independence and the rights of Irish Catholic immigrants. He also supported the American annexation of Canada.
In 1845 McGee returned to Ireland to work at the "Freeman's Journal", and later "The Nation".
He married Mary Teresa Caffrey at Dublin on July 13, 1847.
Thomas D'Arcy McGee became involved in the "Young Ireland" movement and the Irish rebellion of 1848, which failed. He was forced to flee to the United States, where he continued to edit newspapers (including his own, the Nation), agitate for Irish independence, and devise projects for the betterment of Irish immigrants. When McGee's projects failed to gain support, he moved to Montréal in 1857 at the invitation of the local Irish community.
On April 7, 1868, Thomas D’Arcy McGee was assassinated on the doorstep of his boarding house in Ottawa. In his short, turbulent life – he was just shy of his 43rd birthday – he accomplished more than most men could ever imagine.
He wrote serious history and a multitude of poems, delivered hundreds of speeches, edited newspapers, was elected to Parliament not long after arriving in Canada from Ireland, defended the interests of Irish Canadians as he saw those interests and, in the last great battles of his life, fought for Confederation and against the extremism of the Irish Fenians, who sought the liberation of Ireland by all means, including violence.
When McGee’s body was returned to Montreal, an estimated 80,000 people lined the streets of a city whose population was 105,000. It was arguably the largest funeral in Canadian history.
Intellectually and politically, in Ireland, the United States and Canada, McGee moved all over the map, from firebrand revolutionary to statesman, from critic of Britain for its approach to his native Ireland to admirer of the British parliamentary government, from member of the Reform Party to a member of Sir John A. Macdonald’s Liberal-Conservative Party.
Thomas D'Arcy McGee died an “extreme moderate,” slain as an enemy of Fenian extremism. For that rejection of extremism, he paid dearly politically among Irish Canadians and, ultimately, with his life; although much controversy attended the trial and conviction of his murderer, Patrick Whelan, no one doubted his Fenian fanaticism.
Mid-19th-century Canada arguably revolved around religion, with the greatest political battles on minority rights. What McGee always sought – the cause for which he devoted much of his political capital – was Catholic education in what was then Canada West (today’s Ontario).
Although McGee fought for the rights of Irish Catholics, often an oppressed minority looked down on by Scottish and English Protestants, he preached for constructive co-existence among all groups leading to a “new northern nationality,” quite distinct from that of the U.S., enjoying legislative autonomy within the British Empire.
Not everything McGee envisaged came to pass as Canada evolved, but Irish Catholics indeed integrated and made immeasurable contributions to their new country, co-existence won out over separation, and a country – despite all its cleavages and tensions – evolved into one of the world’s most durable federations.
Look around Canada today: bilingual and multicultural, even post-multicultural. McGee would be proud of this accomplishment, because he came to Canada from the U.S. to flee factionalism (he was attacked on all sides for his moderate views) and to oppose extremism in politics.
Thomas D'Arcy McGee looked far ahead, even before Confederation
...to the future of my adopted country with hope, though not without anxiety. I see in the not remote distance, one great nationality bound, like the shield of Achilles, by the blue rim of ocean. I see it quartered into many communities, each disposing of its internal affairs, but all bound together by free institutions, free intercourse, and free commerce.”
Original Article publication can be found here