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Stephen Joseph Meany
(c. 1825-1888)

'You Tell Me That You Love Me Not' - Poem

Stephen Joseph Meany was a Poet, Journalist and Nationalist. He was born in Newhall, near Clarecastle, County Clare. His date of birth seems to have been 1825, though some articles show it as 1822. He showed promise during his early school years at Newhall and was then sent to a classical school in Ennis. His parents were poor tenant farmers so it is likely that he received financial assistance for his education. As a student he wrote some poems for the Clare Journal and in 1841 his poetry book entitled Shreds of Fancy was published. He was married at a young age to a Miss Hoare and fathered two sons and two daughters.

It seems that he worked as a junior reporter at the Clare Journal newspaper before joining the Dublin Metropolitan police force for a short period. Reports say that he was a handsome, athletic young man, over six feet tall. He then joined the Freeman's Journal, a nationalist newspaper, where he became chief reporter. His short-hand skills were legendary and his reputation as an excellent journalist was such that Daniel O'Connell asked that Meany report on all of his speeches. In 1843 when he reported on a speech in Irish by O'Connell in County Kildare, he was the only journalist present who understood the language. He worked with the Irish Felon and the Irish Tribune. He soon became involved in repeal politics and was imprisoned for membership of the Young Irelanders. Following his release he became Editor of the Limerick and Clare Examiner in 1849. He lived in Liverpool from about 1857 but in circumstances, which are unclear, he was declared bankrupt in 1860 in London and he spent intermittent periods in Paddington workhouse. In 1862 he was convicted of obtaining goods under false pretenses and sentenced to eighteen months in prison. On his release he emigrated to the United States where he joined the Fenians. He again worked as a journalist and became an American citizen. Meany visited several cities in the mid-west, organising meetings and fund-raising for the Fenian cause. He lived in Toledo City for some years where General Sherman partnered him in founding a local newspaper.

In 1866 he visited England. He was arrested and transported to Dublin where, despite his impressive speech in his own defence, he was convicted of treason. He was sentenced to fifteen years penal servitude but served only a fraction of that, being released in 1868 following representations from American Congressmen. On returning to America he became London correspondent of the New York World and was admitted to the American Bar Association. In 1869 he visited Ennis and received an enthusiastic welcome at a reception in his honour. He returned to the United States and became Editor of the Evening Democrat. He renewed his connections with the leaders in the Fenian movement and was active in Clan na Gael and the American Land League. In the 1870's and 1880's he spent time in Ireland, delivering lectures on nationalist issues. He was in Ennis in 1886 for the unveiling of the Manchester martyrs memorial.

He died in February 1888 in Waterbury, Connecticut. His body was brought to Ennis for burial in Drumcliffe graveyard on March 11th, 1888. Thousands of people turned out as the coffin was shouldered from the Cathedral to the cemetery. An impressive Celtic cross marks his grave.

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Stephen Joseph Meany