Michael Barrett (Fenian)

Michael Barrett (Fenian)

Michael Barrett (Fenian)

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Michael Barrett (executed 26 May 1868) was born in Drumnagreshial in the Ederney area of County Fermanagh. In his adult years he became a member of the Fenians.

Barrett was the last man to be publicly hanged in England, for his part in the Clerkenwell bombing.John Pratt, Punishment and civilization: penal tolerance and intolerance in modern society, SAGE, 2002, ISBN 0761947531. Chapter 2 The bombing killed 12 bystanders and severely injured many more. Barrett had positioned the bomb in a wheelbarrow outside the external wall of Coldbath Fields Prison in the belief that it would bring down the prison wall and allow Fenian prisoners to escape.

Background

At the age of 27 Barrett joined the Fenians, which, in the 1860s, was a political movement that dominated Irish politics and defied the Catholic Church and middle-class nationalists who advocated milder approaches. Thousands of Irishmen in both Ireland and Britain were recruited into its ranks.

Clerkenwell explosion

The Clerkenwell bombing was the most infamous action carried out by the Fenians in Britain. It resulted in a long-lived backlash that fomented much hostility against the Irish community in Britain.

The events that led up to the bombing started with the arrest, in November 1867, of Richard O’Sullivan-Burke, a senior Fenian arms agent who planned the "prison-van escape" in Manchester a few months earlier. O’Sullivan-Burke was subsequently imprisoned on...
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