James Connelly

Hi Joanne,

You are correct James was tried and sentenced at Meath. No evidence of him being a United man, however the timing of his trial fits the events in Meath at the start of the rebellion on May May 23 and 24, 1798. (extract from my book covering the rebellion)

Some local people rose and prepared to march on the city, only to come under attack and suffer slaughter at Santry and Rathfarnham. Lord Roden and his fox-hunters took many prisoners, tied them and other suspects together on carts and put them on display in the castle-yard before hanging them on the scaffolding at Carlisle Bridge. Wade and Ledwich, two deserters from Lord Elys corps, were publically hanged on Queens Bridge on May 26 and the bodies of James Byrne and James Keely displayed in the castle-yard. The horrors of civil war had started and would engulf every corner of the country. The outrages, merciless cruelties and atrocities by the Orange yeomanry, military and magistrates would ignite the flame of revenge and play a major part throughout the insurrection. The crimes of the rebels were on the same scale, now seen to be carried out in retaliation for these terrible events. A large group of rebels entered the town of Dunshaughlin in county Meath and searched for arms in a small barrack without success. They were informed the arms had been moved into the house of a Rev. Neilson who lived nearby. A volley of shots were fired at the windows after which the rebels rushed inside and killed Neilson, his brother-in-law and a gardener, then proceeded to plunder the house and collect arms. Another party, commanded by Thomas Atkinson and Thomas Connor, ransacked the house of John Bassington of Ballymacarney in Meath and stole four horses. At their court-martial, both declared they were ordered to kill all heretics and to wade in their blood. They boasted they had murdered policemen at Dunboyne and the six Fencibles who were guarding the baggage of that regiment at Clonee-bridge.

The Irish sentence of life was at the time mostly reserved for murder. This differed to the ‘Bloody code of England which saw minor crimes, even been caught at night with a blackened face receive a sentence to ‘suffer death’. James appears in the census 1811 and 1814. There was no muster for the Atlas during their year of arrival.

1811 1814 29. Connolly James 21 M Meath Spr. 1801 Life Government Parramatta Y Y

The following maybe of interest, again from my book:

The Sydney gazette And New South Wales Advertiser, in its first edition published on Saturday March 5, 1803, informed the colony that this banditti is entirely composed of Irish prisoners brought by the Hercules and the Atlas.

Authorities, including Governor King, were very suspicious of the Atlas I and the Hercules convicts and later those from the second Atlas that arrived on October 30, 1802. They had every right to be concerned. After all many had actively participated in the 1798 Rebellion, a deadly mutiny on the Hercules and a large number of those sentenced to life had committed terrible murders and other crimes of violence.

The arrival:

It was a chilly winter morning and as a fog was starting to lift from the waters of Sydney Harbour the convicts from the Atlas who were considered able to work were marched up the dusty road from the wharf and into the gaol yard in Sydney Town. Each convict had with him bedding, clothes and his personal effects. Clothes were the most valuable item they possessed; they had economic value and could be used to trade for food, liquor and tobacco. The Slop clothing mostly consisted of a jacket, one pair of trousers, and a shirt or duck frock. Other items included a blanket, a cap, an ivory comb, six needles, stockings and a pair of shoes (often not made for the left or right foot). If lucky a pair of socks were included, if not a length of rag was bound in-between the toe and around the foot to relieve the pain and make walking at least bearable. This become known as the toe-rag. Females were given, in addition to the mens allowance, a handkerchief and a shift, and three yards of flannel in lieu of a petticoat. Once assembled in the main yard they were mustered and formed into lines before the Chief Superintendent of convicts. Most of the convicts were of dark, ruddy to pale and sallow complexion with black or dark brown hair, hazel eyes and under 6 feet (183 cm) tall. Some had been delivered from the hulk Supply which was anchored in the harbour for the purpose of cleaning their bodies, review and distribution of clothes.

In August my book-books will be published covering Irish history, the1798 rebellion, trials, voyage of the Atlas and the Hercules, the assignments and the times in which the convicts lived. The history of the colony is covered in detail. Naturally, my family (Murtagh and Michael Ahern) is a major part. it covers their murder of the Boland family in Limerick and trials.

Separate to the books will be a reproduction of the Atlas log. The Atlas arrived at 2pm on July 6, 1802. The book is in two volumes of 1,200 pages and includes many never before published documents and illustrations collected over fifteen years.

Please excuse the length and not intended sales pitch


Brian Ahearn

4 thoughts on “COURTESY Brian Ahearn RE JAMES CONNELLY”

    1. Hi Lynne,
      Thanks for your kind offer.
      II can send you a colour shot of the books and the Log book of the Atlas. Not sure if your site can accommodate the size?

      Kind regards
      Here is a brief outline:
      On the morning of November 29, 1801, a heavy wooden wagon, lumbered through the streets of Cork and moved slowly in the direction of the port of Cobh. Absorbing the bumps in the springless cart was a young sworn United Irishman named Murtagh Ahern and his two brothers John and Michael. They had been sentenced to suffer death for rebellious outrages and the brutal murders of all the male members of a Tithe-Proctor’s family at Croom in County Limerick.
      Their commuted sentences to life ‘beyond the sea’ would see them chained below the deck of the ‘Death ship’ Atlas and spend 220 agonising days amongst sick, hungry and disease ridden inmates. It would be the worst voyage in the history of Irish convict transportation to the infant colony of New South Wales. Sixty-five convicts, including his brother John, would join the sufferers on their voyage to the deep.
      At 2 o’clock on July 6, 1802 Murtagh arrived in Port Jackson with his brother Michael. They would suffer, but survive, the most turbulent times in the history of Australia. Murtagh would marry English convict Mary Abbey. They would produce seventeen children and become one of the pioneer families of Liverpool. He worked for Lieutenant Edward Lord in Van Diemen’s Land and under Lieutenant-Governor David Collins. In 1810 he received a pardon from Governor Lachlan Macquarie. He became a constable, a hotelier and a prominent farmer on the Georges River.
      This is the story of an ordinary Irishman who arrived in Sydney, his neck and ankles locked in heavy irons and chains, with only a tattered shirt and trousers to protect him from the extreme elements. Penniless, sick, hungry and treated as a beast of burden, he was classed as an inferior being, one on the scrap heap of humanity. Murtagh had been and continued to be confronted by some of the most extraordinary circumstances and times in our history, yet he showed immense courage and compassion and overcame his predicament to create a large family of many proud ‘native Australians’. He lived up to his family motto:

      Per ardua surgo
      I rise through difficulties

      This book gives a sweep of Irish history from Murtagh’s ancestor Brian Boru the High King of Ireland, the dark days of Oliver Cromwell, the horrors and privations of the 1798 Irish rebellion to the discovery and founding of Australia. It details the struggles of succeeding Governors and the characters who made Australia what it is today. The second volume also covers the early Irish family records of Murtagh and Mary’s family in Mileham. The background of their seventeen children is also included.
      • There are two volumes with a limited special first edition binding.
      • Each book is hard-bound in green leather and blocked in gold.
      • There are 1,300 pages with 753 illustrations, Including a bibliography and index.
      Separate to the two volumes is the log book of the convict transport ‘Atlas’. A total of 363 pages,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s