Toronto based, prize-winning Professor David Wilson will launch his new book D’Arcy McGee – the Extreme Moderate in McGrory’s , Culdaff tonight Friday 4 May 2012 at 7 pm. McGee escaped from Tremone Bay near Carrowmena in 1848 as a warrant was out for his arrest for making a seditious speech. Assisted by Bishop Maginn of Derry, and a local priest, Fr. McDevitt, he was taken out by boat by a local pilot, Lochlann McCann of Ballyharry to a passing sailing ship which took him to America. He moved to Canada where he entered politics, became a cabinet minister and a founding Father of the Confederation of Canada. In 1868 he was assassinated because he had abandoned the physical force tradition of the Fenians. One of the great tragedies of Irish history is the “what if” question.
What if McGee had remained here? Would he have participated in a movement that would have brought Home Rule earlier? Unfortunately, people of great intellectual ability have been driven from these shores either by repressive Westminster policies or emigration. Irish politics has suffered as a result.
McGee’s great-great grandson will attend the event tonight with his wife, Mealanai, both Americans now living in Switzerland. I have visited their home in Veuillerens near Lausanne. John Hume will also be present and representatives of the Canadian Embassy in Dublin will attend, as will the descendants of the pilot, Charlie McCann and the Creswells of Ballyharry. There will be a summer school in Carlingford in memory of McGee this summer and some townspeople will be present. Later a visit will be made to the Boat Port from which he left Ireland. (Foyle pilots now based at Greencastle were stationed at this time in Ballyharry. In the 1880s, they left this post and a new base was established in Moville. Pilots often sailed out to Inishtrahull to see if vessels were making an approach from America.)