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To Quilca

His Reception At The Rotundo By The Volunteers

Irish Humour Home

It was impossible that the high and distinguished claims to respect and
esteem which O'Leary possessed, should escape unnoticed by the Volunteer
association. Never was a more glorious era in the history of Ireland,
than whilst the wealth, valor, and genius of her inhabitants became
combined for the welfare of their country--whilst every citizen was a
soldier, and every paltry political or sectarian difference and
distinction was lost in the full glow and fervor of the great
constitutional object, which roused the energies and fixed the attention
of the people. It was a spectacle worthy the proudest days of Greece or
Rome; but it passed away like the sudden gleam of a summer sun. O'Leary
was exceeded by none of his contemporaries as a patriot: but, though the
coarse and misshapen habit of a poor friar of the order of St. Francis
forebade his intrusion into the more busy scene of national politics,
his pen was not inactive in enlightening and directing his countrymen in
their constitutional pursuits. A highly respectable body of the
Volunteers, the Irish Brigade, conferred on him the honorary dignity
of Chaplain; and many of the measures discussed at the National
Convention held in Dublin, had been previously submitted to his
consideration and judgment. On the 11th of November, 1783, the same day
on which the message said to be from Lord Kenmare was read at the
National Convention, then, holding its meetings in the Rotundo, Father
O'Leary visited that celebrated assemblage. At his arrival at the outer
door, the entire guard of the Volunteers received him under a full
salute, and rested arms: he was ushered into the meeting amidst the
cheers of the assembled delegates; and in the course of the debate which
followed, his name was mentioned in the most flattering and
complimenting manner, by most of the speakers. On his journey from Cork
to the Capital on that occasion, his arrival had been anticipated in
Kilkenny, where he remained to dine; and in consequence, the street in
which the hotel at which he stopped was situate, was filled from an
early hour with persons of every class, who sought to pay a testimony of
respect to an individual, whose writings had so powerfully tended to
promote the welfare and happiness of his countrymen.

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