General James Napper Tandy

O Paddy dear, and did ye hear the news that's goin' round?
The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground!
No more Saint Patrick's Day we'll keep, his color can't be seen
For there's a cruel law ag'in the Wearin' o' the Green."
I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand
And he said, "How's poor old Ireland, and how does she stand?"
"She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen
For they're hanging men and women there for the Wearin' o' the Green."


Napper Tandy was one of Lifford’s better known prisoners. A founder member of the United Irishmen he landed at Rutland Island off the Donegal coast in September 1798 on board the Anacreon with a consignment of arms and French troops. Discovering that the rebellion had already failed, he set sail back to the continent where he was arrested in Hamburg and eventually extradited back to Ireland, first of all to Kilmainham in Dublin, and then finally to Lifford. At his trial he pleaded guilty to the charge of treason and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Fortunately for the General, Napoleon Bonaparte interceded on his behalf and refused to sign a peace treaty which had been agreed between France and Britain unless Napper Tandy was released. His sentence was eventually commuted to transportation for life and then further reduced to exile. He was finally released into the care of his son and arrived at Bordeaux in March 1802 where he died the following year, aged 63, and was buried with full military honours.

Extract from “The Court Will Rise – A short history of the Old Courthouse, Lifford, Co. Donegal” by Billy Patton.

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