1860 -The Irish Brigade in Italy against Garibali
Garibaldi or the Pope.
`Mallacht Dé ar an mbanrion' (God curse the Queen), It'll
be the Pope for me', cried our man Dinny Cleary.
Born around 1836, in Anglesboro, County Limerick, under the Galtees,
Dinny Cleary joined the Papal Brigade against Garibaldi on 17 May
1860. To the best of my knowledge he arrived in Australia in January
1864 with his brother John, on the Great Australia.
Dinny Cleary - son of Michael Cleary and Mary Martin of
Anglesboro County Limerick.
Dinny, as seen in the chapter, Garibaldi or the Pope, in
'Four shillings a day and free passage to anywhere in the
world after it's over', he'd told his cousins, John and David
Danagher, when word arrived that Italian nationalist and rebel,
Garibaldi, had reached the port of Marsala in Sicily under British
protection and was preparing his troops for an all out assault
on the Papal forces.
The smell of British complicity and Masonic anti-Papal hostility
in Garibaldi's march was all that was needed to propel the firebrand
into what would be a perilous journey. At the Galtee Bar,
John and Jeremiah Hedderman, the Danaghers and Micky Daly looked
on excitedly as Cleary drew his pistol and cried, `Garibaldi or
Aware that the Irish Brigade was growing rapidly the British
proclaimed an Act prohibiting enlistment. Sergeant Lawson, loyalist
member of the local Royal Irish Constabulary, nervously advised
the authorities, `From 50 to 60 men at a time accompanied by clergy
are marching off to fight for the Pope'.
When the War of Independence began, the men who followed in
Lawson's footsteps would become a target for Volunteer bullets.
`Mallacht Dé ar an mbanrion' (God curse the Queen),
Dinny Cleary had said as he staggered off into the cold, dark
Galtee night a lifetime before Breen pointed his revolver at the
British Empire. In the morning, the Cleary lad and the Danaghers
would meet under Knockmagh, the hill of the sheep, and begin their
journey to Cork and passage to the Continent. On May 17, 1860
they were away. Two weeks later the Heddermans would join them.
In September 2000, 77-year-old Nelius Fitzpatrick of Kilfinane recounted
a story about being at the funeral of the wife of a man called Corbett,
many years earlier. According to Nelius the Priest had said there
'would be no fee on account of the family’s service in the Papal
Brigade against Garibaldi'. It's one of the few stories I've been
able to unearth.
At the archives office in Dublin I found a solicitor general's
report of 1860 which listed the following names of men who'd enlisted
at Kilfinane. The list had been compiled by a local informer, Sergeant Lawson:
Dinny Cleary - 17/5/60
John Connor 18/5/60
Michael Daly 31/5/60
David and John Danagher - 17/5/60
John and Jeremiah Hedderman - 1/6/60
James Keane - 1/6/60
John Linane - 1/6/60
James Madden 17/5/60
Michael and Patrick McAuliffe 1/6/60 and 2/6/60
What's intriguing is that two other Clearys, Patrick and William, left for the Continent on 17 June 1860. Were these Clearys related?
The Cleary, Danagher, Hedderman and Daly names are common along
the Boro Road in the Sth East corner of Limerick. Keane is found
there too and is common in Ballylanders.
Connor/Connors is found locally but I suspect Madden was probably
from the west of Limerick as were the McAuliffes and Linane.
|Ellen Cleary nee Doyle. Ellen had been widowed when her
husband John Heagney drowned in Hepburn's lagoon on Christmas
Eve 1863. She was left with two small children, Tom and Ellen.
ARTICLE IN THE ENGLISH CHURCHMAN OF SEPTEMBER 8 AND 9 2000, http://www.ianpaisley.org
DR CLIVE GILLIS HAD THIS TO SAY ABOUT THE PAPAL BRIGADE:
Pius IX chose the childish dreamer Monsignor Saverio de Merode
as his Minister of War. De Merode, a fanatical and wealthy Belgian
papist, had been a soldier before entering the priesthood. Here
was his opportunity to excel.
He set about raising the Papal army ‘with more haste than intelligence’
fully expecting to reverse the gains of the patriots. He worked
with the Jesuits on a press campaign aimed at mobilising Roman Catholic
sentiment throughout Europe.
His propaganda reached as far as the French in Quebec, where 507
Canadians became the first body of troops from that land to fight
abroad. The centenary of this event was marked with a filmed re-creation
of the episode entitled, With Drums and Trumpets, which although
‘sympathetic’ could not be other than ‘humorous’.
Their grey uniforms and red peaked grey hats which were the dress
of the Papal Zouave (light infantry) can be seen along with their
rifles, bayonets and medals in the Canadian War Museum. Pius IX
is reported to have been worried by the enthusiastic response from
Ireland, because he feared that the temptation of readily available
cheap Italian wine might impair their fighting capacity. His fears
proved well founded. However the Irish priests procured many volunteers
with ‘golden promises’.
The volunteers consisted of ‘Austrians liberated from prison; turbulent
and undisciplined Swiss; Spanish beggars; and starving Irish’.
When the Irish volunteers found that they had been deceived in their
expectations by the priests they became riotous and set fire to
their barracks declaring that ‘they would murder any foreign officers
who attempted to command them.’
The disillusioned Irish volunteers became, ‘incredibly dirty and
immoral’ the most loutish of their number ‘claiming their pay with
menaces’. The authorities of Macerata declared that they ‘preferred
even a Spanish garrison to an Irish one’. The only volunteers recruited
within the Papal States formed a regiment of ruffians nicknamed
the barbacani because they ‘preferred robbery and pillage to military
The indescribable brutality of the Papal Army, particularly of
the volunteers, is well chronicled, especially during the action
in Perugia. Some American citizens, the Perkins, happened to be
staying in a Perugian hotel. Though in possession of appropriate
Pontifical papers they were attacked and robbed by the papal troops.
Many innocent families were less fortunate. In this action, which
saw the Marches added to the evolving Italy, the incident was exploited
by the patriots. Petitions were secretly disseminated prior to the
invasion, to encourage the occupants to rise at the appropriate
time. These made great play of the immorality and ruthlessness of
the Papal troops. The Papacy may well wish to distance itself from
such tings but unfortunately for Rome the private views of Pius
IX have been providentially preserved for us.
Odo Russell was the official representative of the British government
at the Vatican from 1858-1870. His correspondence with his uncle,
Lord John Russell, is of particular value because, ‘Pius was very
free in talking to him, perhaps because he was detached from this
particular struggle, and not even a (Roman) Catholic’.
In a letter from Odo Russell to Lord John Russell dated January
16th 1861 we read, ‘The Pope then explained to me, as
he had done before, that the petulance of the Italian people rendered
self government impossible, and that the present movement in Italy
could never succeed; we Englishmen would not understand that Italy
must be ruled by strong armies and a firm hand.’ It would take the
Pope several hours to expound his views on this vital principle.
The Vatican remains a very powerful State even without its territories.
No doubt such a strong European Army would be very useful in putting
down troublesome Protestants in Ulster or wherever they might be
So, what can we make of all this?
Although most Irish republicans express disappointment that Irishmen
would fight for the Pope, there's more to it than that. I'd have
been on Garibaldi's side, but it's hard to escape the religious
subtext of Gillis' paranoia. Unfortunately, there is little in the
the way of oral history I've been able to gather over the years.
Tipperary Journal carries a reference in an article on David Conyngham
(page 195) to the welcome home at Mullinahone Tipperary of the Papal
The Irish National Library
Of interest also is:
I've not been able to acquire copies of these articles but if you
have or know of other material or have any information about the
Limerick Papal Brigade please email me on:
For more on the Anglesboro clan go to History section:
Cleary Independent -Phil Cleary -(HarperCollins
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 14:34:12
From: Helen Carrick email@example.com
Subject: Irish Brigade query
>Greetings from Brisbane. I am currently researching my husband's
grandfather - Thomas Joseph CARRICK- who was born in Limerick in
1840, and actually spent 3 years studying for the priesthood at
the Irish College in Rome. He was there from Oct 7, 1858 until Dec31,
I then have a gap of 5 years, until he received his first government
appointment from the NSW Public Service. He becamea member of the
Customs Service, and spent some time on the Tweed. Last weekend
we visited the Museum down there, where they have an excellent Local
History Section, and in the file on Thomas, it had a report the
he had spent some time in "the Italian Army'; and also that
he had spent some time in Paris.
I have now been back in touch with a researcher in Limerick, who
me about the Papal Army, (must admit I had never heard of it before),
and suggested that that was perhaps where Thomas Carrick had ended
up!! I then did a Google search and found your page - so, I'm hoping
you may be able to advise me as to where I could possibly obtain
a list of the Irishmen in this Army.
Any clues at all would be greatly appreciated.
....having stumbled up your page on Dinny Cleary I had a little
tingle of interest. There is so little mention of the Papal Zouave's
Irish recruitment in 1860.
I spent many years trying to flesh out a family tale that my g-g-grandfather
was what was termed 'a Swiss guard', a story which when I was younger
I considered largely apocryphal. Nevertheless I set off on a paper
trail to try get to the root of the story. As you're probably aware,
trying to knuckle down an Irish Catholic peasant ancestor is not
the easiest of tasks.
After many years I've not much to show for
it other than 'my man', one Thomas Dooley (AKA O'Dálaigh
/Dawley ) a drapers assistant, aged 17, took a passage to Italy
in May 1860, paid for in part by the clergy and also The Nation
newspaper and there took part in the siege of Ancona where the
Vatican forces were at war with the Piedmontese, was subsequently
decorated for his part in the fight and the medal in question passed
down through several generations was last known to be in the possession
of a distant cousin in the Seychelles.
I'm aware that around one thousand Irish volunteers were recruited
(or lured) to take part in this effort and I combed through the
ecclesiastical records until I found my man, eventually his passport
number and a police report on his movements as well as letter intercepted
by the authorities written to his employer on the eve of his leaving
Killarney for Cork and thence to board ship.
I just thought I'd share my enthusiasm with you and ask you if you
have much in the way of research sources on the subject of the Irish
Papal Volunteers? It's a fascinating subject. And it was good for
me to see your photo of Dinny -he looks like quite a character-
and to think that my ancestor fought alongside that man 166 years