Charles Gavan Duffy

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Charles Gavan Duffy, one of the most famous Monaghan men was born on Dublin Street on Good Friday, 12th April 1816. His father was from Rockcorry and his mother was from Latnamard. His father was a businessman but  he died when Gavan was ten years old. He went to school in Mill Street, because, at that time, the children were educated in several different privately run schools in the town. Later he was sent to a Presbyterian school which was run by the Rev. John Blakely. He got a good education and he was always interested in the affaris of the country, which was under English rule at that time.


He went to Dublin in 1836 to learn journalism on a paper called Morning Register. Two years later he went to start a newspaper called The Vindicator in Belfast. Gavan Duffy, Thomas Davis and John Blake Dillon met under an elm tree in Phoenix Park in Dublin and they had discussions about Ireland, and how to promote this country as a place in its own right. They supported the Repeal of the Union, which meant breaking all ties with England. They started the paper called The Nation, and Gavan Duffy became its first editor in 1842. Gavan Duffy worked, through The Nation, to educate the Irish people to have a pride in their own identity and culture, and to have self-confidence. The three founders met each week.

Gavan Duffy was a peace-loving man but he felt that force could not be ruled out if Ireland was to be free. In this he differed from Daniel O'Connell, and so founded the Irish Confederation in 1846. He was arrested in 1849 for supporting armed insurrection, but he was released. The next year he founded the Tenant League whose aims were: 1.Fair Rent, 2.Fixity of Tenure, 3. Free sale (the three 'F's).

He was elected to Parliament in 1852, along with 49 other men who promised to support the Tenant League. These men did not all keep their promise. Gavan Duffy resigned from Parliament and left Ireland, to go to Australia. He was sad, sick and disillusioned and, in his own words, he was "leaving behind a bitter land".

He received a hero's welcome in Australia where he went into politics. He was very successful and became Premier of Victoria. He was offered a Knighthood, and his friends advised him to take it for his service in Australia, so he became Sir Charles Gavan Duffy.

In 1880 he retired from politics because he had bronchitis. He married for the third time in that year also.

Charles Gavan Duffy, Monaghan's most famous son, died at Nice, in the South of France, on 19th February, 1903. He died with the names of his Monaghan neighbours on his lips. He was buried in Glasnevin near Daniel O'Connell.

P.S.:C.G.Duffy once edited The Northern Standard when the usual editor was sick. 

(Extract from Monaghan Images)

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