A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and National Book Award recipient, Timothy Egan has written yet another compelling page-turner with The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an America Hero. This time, the author’s protagonist is Thomas Meagher, a revolutionary man who lived during revolutionary times in both Ireland and America. Egan mesmerizingly traces Meagher’s life from his privileged upbringing in Waterford, Ireland, to his schooling at a private prep school in England to his rise as a socially conscious nationalist who turned away from his family and the “Great Liberator” Daniel O’Connell’s ideology to a career of renown in the U.S. during and after the Civil War.
A crucial member of the mid-1800s political and social group known as Young Ireland — and the acknowledged creator of the tricolor Irish Republic flag of green, white, and orange — Meagher was banished by the British government to the Crown’s prisoner colony Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) after the group’s failed attempt at a nationalist uprising in 1848. Following a daring escape from the penal outpost, Meagher made his way to New York, where he met up with former Young Ireland allies who were continuing to fight for their home country’s independence from American soil. As seemed to be his destiny, the great orator and organizer Meagher joined the ranks of Irish Americans who flourished in their adopted country. For his part, Meagher became a brigadier general in the Civil War, writing himself into the annals of U.S. history by leading the Irish Brigade and eventually governing the Montana territory.
Egan is a sharp, eloquent writer who never loses the thread of his subject’s intrigue, and The Immortal Irishman is not only a fascinating history but also a riveting story about an amazing person who electrified folks in both Ireland and America and left a legacy that runs as deep as the ties that bind the two countries together.