As O’Connell focused all his energies of the impossible struggle to obtain a political settlement of the repeal debate, younger members of the Repeal Association urged more dramatic measures. Their title Young Ireland was both a derogatory statement from the older and more established members of the organization to dismiss them and a connection to the Italian inspired movement of revolutionary, republican, nationalists Giuseppe Mazzini’s Young Italy movement. The movement formed in March 1839, with John Blake Dillon, Thomas MacNevin, William Eliot Hudson, and Thomas Davis. The group questioned O’Connell’s ability and tone, his close alliance with the Whig party in Great Britain, and overbearing attitude. As members of the organization, the young dissenters could recruit additional supporters within the repeal Association, especially the author of Felon’s Track Michael Doheny and Charles Gavan Duffy. Looking for a leader, the movement looked to William Smith O’Brien, who reluctantly took up the scepter of the movement. Fearful, O’Connell reacted against this vocal group of revolutionary minded individuals. In the summer of 1846, O’Connell forced a vote on the Repeal Association to abhor violence. In the debate, the young Thomas Francis Meagher rose up and challenged the Liberator, claiming that violence was necessary as a last resort measure. He argued in the speech, that gave him his nom de guerre Meagher of the Sword, that the Irish might need to use force in the future and therefore should not deny themselves this option. The dissenting members organized the Irish Confederation to voice their views for repeal, if necessary with violence.

Image: Doheny, Michael. The Felon's Track: Or, History of the Late Attempted Outbreak in Ireland. New York: W.H. Holbrooke, 1849.