John Savage (1828-88)

b. 13 Dec. 1828, Dublin, studied art; joined Young Ireland; contrib. United Irishman, and the Tribune; co-fnd. The Irish Felon; prop. The Patriot, 1848, and suppressed; journalist in Ireland up to 1848 Rising, in which he played a small part; aided John O’Mahony in attempt to renew rebellion; emig. America, where he was on the staff of the New York Tribune; leader-writer on Washington States’ Journal, 1857; contrib. to John Mitchel’s The Citizen; joined the 69th Regiment, led by Thomas F. Meagher; he led the O’Mahoney faction of the IRB after the Civil War;
wrote Fenian Heroes and Martyrs (1868), a series of effusive but materially informative biographies; also The Modern Revolutionary History and Literary of Ireland (1884), on the ’98 Rebellion and the ’48 Rising; issued Lays of the Fatherland (1850); also poems, Faith and Fancy (1864); Poems, Lyrical, Dramatic And Romantic (NY 1870); prominent in the large attendance at the funeral service of John O’Mahony in New York; also best remembered for a declamation, “Shane’s Head”; received Hon. LLD from St John’s College, Fordham, 1879; d. 9 Oct. 1888, New York. PI JMC DIH MKA RAF

[ top ]

  • Sybil, A Tragedy in Five Acts / in verse and prose (New York: Kirker 1865), 99pp.* [available at ProQuest in American Drama Full-text Database, 2003]
  • Lays of the Fatherland (NY: Redfield 1850), 12°;*
  • Faith and Fancy (NY: Kirker 1864), 118pp, 12° [18cm];*
  • Poems, Lyrical, Dramatic and Romantic (NY: Kirker 1867) [var. 1870 PI];
  • Eva: A Goblin Romance in Five Parts (NY: Kirker 1865
*All attrib on t.p. to John Savage, ‘one of the contributors to the Irish Felon’.
  • ’98 and ’48: The Modern Revolutionary History and Literary of Ireland [1st edn.?1856] (NY 1884), xx, 402pp.;
  • Our Living Representative Men ... from official and original sources (Philadelphia: Childs & Peterson 1860), 503pp., 20cm.
  • The Life and Public Services of Andrew Johnson, including his state papers, speeches and addresses (NY: Derby & Miller 1866), 9-408, 57, 19pp., ill. [5 lvs. of pls.], 8° [];
  • Fenian Heroes and Martyrs, edited, with an historical introduction on “The Struggle for Irish Nationality” (Boston: Patrick Donahoe 1868) 461pp. [see extracts];
  • American Citizens Prisoners in Great Britain (NY 1870).
  • ed., Picturesque Ireland : a literary and artistic delineation of the ... scenery, ... places, ... antiquities, ... buildings ... and other ... features ... Illustrated in steel and wood, by eminent native and foreign artists (NY: published by Thomas Kelly [...] 1878), xxxiii, 647pp., ill. [62 pls., some fold.; maps (col.)], 29.5cm. [TCD Lib.]

[ top ]

Francis Fairfield (Emerald, NY 1868), Eugene Davis (Shamrock 1877) and anon. in The Nation, 20 Oct. 1888.

[ top ]


Fenian Heroes and Martyrs (Boston: Patrick Donahoe 1868) - extract on Col. Thomas Francis Bourke.

It has been truly said that no words have so thrilled the Irish heart, since the ever-famous speech of Robert Emmet, in the dock, September 1803 as those of Thomas Francis Bourke, in the same place, on the 1st of May, 1867.

No doubt the similarity of the scenes which go into the immortal history of Ireland’s martyrology simultaneously suggested the comparison between them, to many minds. It was natural. It would have been remarkable, indeed, if beholding the one, the memories of the other were not conjured up. Sixty-four years almost had passed, since the devoted young Irish went from France to revolutionize his country, and give freedom and the means of happiness and prosperity to her oppressed people. Uncontrollable circum stances baffled his devotion, waylaid his hopes, exposed his plans, frustrated the result, which should have followed [121] his enthusiastic and carefully devised labors, and flung him into the relentless jaws of English authority, as administered in Ireland by the infamous Norbury. He died glorying in the sacrifice he was able to make on the altar of his country’s rights; and his wondrous words are daily given in school-books and “Readers,” with those of the founders and heroes of the United States, to the boys of the Republic to enliven their mental marrow with deeds of glory, and strengthen them with faith in love of country, even unto dying for her.

The heroism and romantic disinterestedness which we have been accustomed to regard with a fervor which awoke our pride, not less than our pity - and pity, the Irish dramatist tells us, is “kin to love” - has been enacted over again in these, our supposed prosaic days, This time the hero went to Ireland, not from France, but from America, guided by similar desires, fed by as broad a faith, and encouraged by hopes born of facts apparently not less - actually much more convincing, than those upon which the young revolutionist of 1803 based his mission to Ireland.

It is not only a source of consolation, but of hopeful inspiration, to see the effect produced by the bold and touching words of an honest man. They are self-convincing to the heart of every manly reader; they need no argument to enforce their truths, or prove the character of the man who utters them. Thomas Francis Bourke, who had been scarcely mentioned in the public press, before his trial, has leaped into a widely acknowledged pre-eminence; a position which cannot be [122] won simply by fortunate circumstances on the one hand, or appealingly oppressive treatment on the other. The vital spark of genius, whether it be manifested in letters, art, science or heroism - for there is a genius in heroism outside of that other reliable kind mentioned in gazettes, and based on routine - must be there - must give life to the act or expressed thought, must give that touch of nature which makes the whole world kin. Robert Emmet was scarcely known until he never could be known, save by the record which his genius and his faith made. The name of Thomas Francis Bourke was scarcely known until it filled all mouths; and he will, no doubt, be associated with his day, when those who occupied public attention for years before it, will be placed on the retired lists of history.

It is those truths, which anticipate tradition and history, that lend an interest to the career, whatever it may have been, which preceded the act which gives or propitiates fame.

Thomas Francis Bourke was born on the 10th December, 1840,[...]

- pp.121-62; for longer extract, see under Thomas Francis Burke, infra.
Source: A full copy of the chapter is given in Michael Ruddy’s “Fenian” web page [online].

[ top ]

Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic University of America 1904), selects “Shane’s Head” [on a pole before Dublin Castle, ‘I’ll speed me Ulsterwards - your ghost must wander there, proud Shane/In search of some O’Neill through whom to throb its hate again.] See also under John Brenan, and PI entry for same.

[ top ]

Namesake: John Savage is the hyper-Protestant author of Rome’s Conviction, or, A vindication of the original institution of Christianity (MDCLXXXIII [1683]), and A full view of popery, in a satyrical account of the lives of the popes, &c. from the pretended succession of St. Peter, to the present Pope Clement XI [...] (London: 1704), 488pp. - ‘Wherein all the impostures and innovations of the Church of Rome appear in their true colours, and all their objections, cavils &c. are fully answer’d and confuted. The whole being interspersed with several pasquils. To this is added, A confutation of the Mass, and a vindication of reform’d devotion. In two parts / Written by a learned Spanish convert, and address’d to his countrymen: now faithfully translated from the second and best edition of the original. 1704.’ [t.p.]; also A Full View of Popery, in a satyrical account of the lives of the popes, &c. To this is added, a Confutation of the Mass. By a learned Spanish convert [C. de Valera], now trans [by J. Savage] (1704). The same is author of works on Hertfordshire and Somerset and Romance and classical translations.

[ top ]