February 11, 2011 cameron

The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast #58 – Wolfe Tone & The Irish Rebellions 1796-98

Welcome back!

I know, I know, it’s been 8 months since our last podcast. Sorry folks.

On this episode, our special guest is again Nicholas Stark, a 20-year-old wunderkind who David and I first met in Paris back in 2008, and who is studying at West Chester University in Philadelphia and a Fellow of the International Napoleonic Society.

Today Nicholas regales us with the story of Wolfe Tone, a leading figure in the United Irishmen Irish independence movement and who is regarded as the father of Irish republicanism.

Although Napoleon doesn’t feature greatly in this story, as most of it takes place while his career was just beginning, it is a tremendous tale of the French Revolution, the Directory and the Irish independence movement and it leads to some wondrous “what if” scenarios.

What if the French has assisted the Irish in their rebellion?

What impact would a English defeat to the French and Irish in 1796 have had on the rest of the Revolutionary Wars?

Could England have survived a two-front war with one of those on it’s own doorstep?

Nick adds:

The total Irish casualties in 1798 were 20,000 (more than Terror victims in French Rev except for Vendée), plus I want to add an acknowledgment of Cécile Déjardin and Stephen Dunford, who both have helped me with my research.

Music for this show: Sibina McCague and Padraig McGovern Moran’s Hornpipe*Byrnes Hornpipe), Paidin O Raifeartaigh


Comments (47)

  1. John Fermendzin

    Well! It’s about time! =:o0

    Seriously, great news – A Napoleon #58! You and David Markam have done an excellent job with Napoleon 101. I managed to catch up to #57 a few weeks ago and am now listening to The Biography Show’s “King Arthur”.

  2. thanks

    yaaaa a new one whats happening with The Podcast Network???? i still don’t know what happed to Caesar lol

    • Cameron

      I’m trying to re-build TPN this year with a new source of funding. Unfortunately David decided he was too busy to do Caesar but I hope to find another historian to work with me on it. Thanks for your interest!

  3. Peter Laurent

    Hi Nick you said that Connacht was the first Irish Republic well this is not in fact true
    wexford was a republic for the period of summer 1798-to winter.. and on another topic you said that the priests were useless as leaders, although im not much of a fan of the clergy my Great great uncle was Father John Murphy rebel leader and the won numerous skirmishes against the Yeomen (British soldiers) you must remember the Irish militia had almost twice the number of soldiers compared to the English forces and Yeomanry, however one big disadvantage was that the Irish had no guns or gunpowder as it was forbidden for a catholic to own a weapon, the main weapon was the Pike…

    You should also mention that Tone was Protestant which is interesting as he did manage to unite the 2 sides. There was also a large grouping of Irish who did not want to break there ties with the English as their economy’s depended on it.

  4. @Peter On the point of Wexford, I will concede. I am not nearly so familiar with the exact structuring of the revolution in Wexford, and so I can not contest that they declared a republic themselves. I would ask, however, if you could direct me to material whereby I could discover the precise structure of their republic so I can better develop my studies. Either way, I can ammend my statement to this: the revolution in 1798 saw the birth of the first Irish Republic. As for the clergy, I do not recall calling them usesell, although perhaps I did. What I either did or at the least meant to say was that Tone in particular saw them as unreliable and untrustworthy as organizers of the revolution. Of course there would be several prominent priests, as you say and as I know, that would be important in the rising itself. But Tone tried to keep the Directory away from relying on them. And I did initially point out that Tone was protestant, specifically Anglican, when I addressed his early work on Catholic emancipation, which I said was all the more striking because he was Anglican. Your point on the weapons is well-taken too, which is definitely note-worthy and I might have addressed had I been better prepared. Although the pikes did work relatively well, especially against the British cavalry who were not used to fighting pikes, and that was a lot of Tone’s negotiating, to get weapons, and pretty much says “Whatever weapons and ammo you bring, that’s all we have, so bring as much as you can if you expect us Irishmen to be useful in the fighting!” Thank you, honestly, for all the suggestions. I will make sure I directly address or clarify those issues in my lecture.

  5. mike navratil

    I was so pleased to see a new podcast from you guys this morning, I have recently become addicted to your podcast, I am going to be listening to 16,17 and 18 today at work. I love it, and am very happy that you are still producing episodes . David and Cameron, you two have a great chemistry and together you make a good podcast great. Also, David might be happy to know that I am a fellow Washingtonian, hailing from the dry, eastern part of the state (Spokane).

  6. Peter Laurent

    hey nick if you want i can send you copies of records and letters by my grandmother ~(she collected many such things) my email is
    [email protected] (i follow you on twitter also) and i would be really happy to share with you some great original sources

  7. @Michael It depends what you’re looking for, but I would love to help suggest some good sources. Although expensive, I found the 3 volume collection edited by T. W. Moody, R. B. McDowell, and C.J. Woods entitled “The Writings of Theobald Wolfe Tone, 1796-98” to be superb, not only containing relevant excerpts from Tone’s journal (which is also a great read in it’s lengthy entirety, called “A Life”) but also documents (many in French, I should not) from the French government, private negotiations, and also the more formal documents Tone wrote but only alluded to in his Journal (although some editions might have them).

    Outside of primary documents, it depends what you’re interested in. In general, Marianne Elliott’s “Partners in Revolution: The United Irishmen and France” is a terrific read and got me interested in the first place. On the Franco-Irish situation under Napoleon, as mentioned in the show, John G. Gallaher’s “Napoleon’s Irish Legion” is phenominal (and I would love to hear him do an episode on it!) but regrettably, being out of print, it is exceedingly difficult to get at an affordable price.

    If you’re interested in the French campaign in Ireland in 1798, there is a great book by my friend Stephen Dunford called “In Humbert’s Footsteps: Mayo 1798” but which is also regrettably out of print. It’s not a detailed military record, I should add, but rather studies the social and cultural history of the event, as well as recounting many fascinating first hand accounts and legends while tracing through the exact rout of the French army every step of the way and telling the Irish viewpoint.

    If you want more suggestions, let me know and I have more to offer, but I didn’t want to flood the comment section with a list of books if nobody wanted more than a few. Take care, and let me know if you have any further questions or feedback!

  8. @Peter I would love that! I just sent you an email, so I’ll talk more with you there. Most kind of you, and I am very anxious to see what you have!

  9. Christine

    Hurrah! I am SO excited! The first episode of the podcast where I am listening in “real time” !

  10. Patrick Wong

    Excellent podcast, as always! Although, I could really feel the emotional weight upon J. David Markham and the effects of his medicine. It felt just like that one episode where Cameron Reilly indulged in medicine due to one of his employees turning to the dark side. Well, hopefully good will prevail in the end.

  11. Vlad See

    First, I would like to express my gratitude for producing this wonderful show about Napoleon and his impact on world history. I’ve listened to each episode with great interest and still eagerly await each new episode that you will produce.

    Of great interest to me is his military skill and accomplishments. While I enjoy your lively discussion on Napoleon’s political, social, and even personal endeavors, my favorite shows were on his battles and campaigns as well as the Russian generals that faced him.

    You see, my hobby is playing military simulation boardgames. Many games have been produced on Napoleon’s battles and campaigns for the past 30+ years. You may have seen these boardgames in stores or may have tried your hand on some of these yourselves.

    One of the leading game designers on Napoleonic battles/campaigns is Kevin Zucker. He has been producing Napoleonic wargames since probably the late 70s/early 80s to the present. Together with the games that he publishes, he also releases books that explains the battles called Special Studies that complement the game and gives the gamer/reader a better understanding of what they are playing. Aside from the games, Mr Zucker organizes a yearly trip to certain Napoleonic battle sites and personally gives some of the tours himself as far as I understand.

    I guess what I’m driving at is I would be delighted if you could get him on the show and have a discussion on Napoleonic military history and how he translates that to the military simulation boardgames.

    He has a website where you could find his products and probably his contact information as well.


    I hope this topic is of interest to you and will eventually produce a show with Mr. Zucker. Thanks again for the podcast and I hope to hear more in the future!


    p.s. I appreciate it if you could keep this message between us. thanks

  12. Bruce

    The Feb 2011 podcast was such fun to listen to because David was obviously consuming quite a lot of his medicine throughout the show. The slurred speech became more and more fun throughout the show.

  13. Peter Laurent

    how much funds would you need Cameron?
    om sure if a few regulars trow in a few bob!
    you should do a pledge drive !

  14. Thomas Normoyle

    I have made the Pilgrimage ! In the last few days I have visited the Emporer’s Tomb. Imagine my surprise upon visiting the book/souvenir shop and discovering no title by the Rev J. David Markam. Surely an error on thier behalf.
    Enjoyed the Wolfe Tone podcast. The Catholic Church always supported the establishment. If anything you understated British oppression. Check out Pitchcap and Triangle.

  15. Cedric Sagne

    I have been following the Napoleon podcast all the way to here; this installment is IMHO largely off topic.

    To Nick: the Haiti installments were great, they are an in depth discussion on a largely unknown internal policy, whose impact on N’s career is insignificant, but which is directly connected to Bonaparte and a small, distant part of France outside the main European campaigns… as well as his reaction after Toussaint’s self proclamation.

    On the other hand this #58 installment is more connected with the French Revolution and its spread in Europe (and in particular how it was seen by Britain). Bonaparte isn’t a part of this, he has no impact and for him it was also probably a one liner in the papers of the day.

    I also personally disliked that the show was not edited properly (audio issues), and the discussion lacked (at least I felt it this way) a proper structure (two shorter installments might have given #58 a basic structure).

    • Cameron

      Hey Cedric, yeah I think I said as much in the notes on the show. Didn’t really have much to do with Napoleon directly, but serves as a good Part One to the show that we’re setting up with Gerry to discuss the Irish Legions who served under Napoleon.

  16. Elliott James

    Interesting show, but it cut off abruptly after about 58 minutes.

    You do down play the very real fears of the British government of Irish Catholicism. The execution of Charles I in 1649 directly resulted from his attempts to use Irish Catholics to continue the Civil Wars (1642-8). James II during the Glorious Revolution (1689) tried to do much the same thing.

    The English are not an overtly religious race, but they do have an abiding distrust of Catholicism which they see as a treat to the rights. This goes back to the 16th and 17th Centuries. It was reinforced by James II who was seen as a monarch who sought to impose the Church of Rome in England.

    In these circumstances the fear of a hostile population loyal to Rome caused the backlash against the Irish population.

    For the record, today Northern Ireland is not occupied by the English. Rather the English are saddled with this region because a majority of the local population wants to retain the links with the UK and pick the pockets of English taxpayers.

  17. @Cedric, Yes I do know this was a bit off topic, but Napoleon does tie in, and if Cam and David manage to get Gallaher on for Napoleon and Ireland, this episode will have provided important background. And it did make large news in the day, but it was overshadowed in history by Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, although the Irish expeditions are at least as fascinating and captured the imaginations back then.And it almost was an issue for Napoleon, who could eaily have been the one sent and was originally meant to be the general sent in 1798. But I will concede, there were audio issues, admittedly on my side, and that had to do with discheveled scheduling, but it was one of those “now or never” moments, so we went through wih the episode, which I am glad of.

    @Elliot I do know the fears of the British government of Irish Catholics, but most of those fears were fabricated by the British themselves, so the government had little to fear, although the average Brit probably feared. There was no strong allegiance to Rome from the Catholics. Most of them don’t seem at all concerned with it, and as the revolution showed, religion had little to do with it ultimately, although a history of religious oppression set up an atmosphere. As for Northern Ireland, this is a bit of a sideliner, since this is more modern politics rather than historical research relevant to the topic, but I would say that England “saddled” itself with imperialist entanglements when it refused to give the region independence with the rest of Ireland. The majority of the English people have been shown to oppose possessing it, and if the British government wishes to maintain it, it’s its own fault. It created this mess with its poor, disheveled policies.

  18. Matthew Dobbie

    Another fantastic podcast gentlemen. I’ve have throughly enjoyed the podcast over the last few years. As a resident of Toronto, I was quite pleased to hear that David has now made this fine city his home. Our city is much the better for it. Welcome to Toronto David, and I can assure you that the weather does get better eventually.

  19. Thanks for another very enjoyable show and it is great to hear Nick getting to be part of the team.

    I am also grateful that you didn’t do anywhere near as much Brit bashing as I was expecting. The history of Ireland is far from the most noble bit of what has gone on these islands. But it is worth bearing in mind that at this point in time the population of Ireland was a bit over half the population of England, Wales and Scotland combined. Both were dwarfed by France, which also had plentiful land, forests and deep navigable rivers. An alliance of an independent Ireland with France would have been the ultimate disaster for England for most of its history – right up until the industrial revolution in fact. When looking at the undoubted attrocities the English carried out you have to bear in mind how easily the boot could have been on the other foot, and how vital an interest the English had in keeping the upper hand.

  20. So good to have you guys back on! I discovered the podcast a couple of months ago and have devoured every episode. My wife and I drove from San Diego, in southern California to Las Vegas, Nevada and then on into Utah and back in five days, a loonngg trip by car, and listened to the show non-stop the entire time. Wow! Great stuff.

    I greatly enjoyed Nick’s presentation. Nick, you’ve noticeably honed your speaking style from the Hatti shows. You seem more relaxed this time, looks like you are finding your “groove” apace. I look forward to hearing more from you on future shows.

    David, sorry to hear of your current difficulties. I hope things work out well for you, as I’m sure they will as the dust settles a bit more.

  21. Dear Friends,

    Glad to hear that you liked the show, and pleased that it created some discussion. I apologize for the delay between the past two shows. Sorry also if my medication was a little obvious. Part of that is that there was a long delay from when we were expecting to do the show until when we actually started recording, due to some unexpected technical issues on my end. As to Caesar and future biography shows, once I make my move to Toronto and get settled, I will try to get back into this, as I enjoyed it very much.

    Thanks again for your appreciation, and also for some kind words of personal encouragement that some have sent me.



  22. Carl Edwards

    The downloads aren’t working for me anymore. Nor is the player on this site working when I click play, it says “file not found”.

    David, Cameron and Nick; this podcast series is absolutely amazing, keep it up. Being English I was always fascinated with Napoleon but for obvious reasons didn’t know the real story…

  23. Oliver

    Server is apparently unavailable, i can’t download all the episodes! help me!

  24. Cameron

    Sorry folks – I just realized the site is broken. Will get it fixed today! Apologies!

  25. Cameron

    Hi Folks,

    Looks like our issues have been fixed. Please let me know if you continue to have problems!


  26. Michael

    When can we expect a new podcast? How did the attempts to get in contact with Vincent Cronin go?

    • Cameron

      Hi Michael, not sure about when we’ll do a new show. I think Cronin might be a bit old, isn’t he in his 90s?

  27. Bill in Texas


    I am finally catching up to the latest shows. I just finished episode # 55. Will you tell me what record/CD has Mireille Mathieu’s version of La Marsellaise? I found one or two listed on Amazon but I want to be sure to get the version heard on the podacast.

    I love the show and have learned a lot by listening to you guys. I hope it goes on and on!

  28. Peter laurent

    Mr Cronin unfortunately passed away in January of this year..
    why not try getting Bob Packet back on hes really good at all this podcasting stuff

  29. darren

    Listened to all 58 podcasts while at work in just 3 months, really enlightening thanks.

    Nick mentioned briefly a minor invasion in Fishguard, West Wales, being from the area I can say the invasion is still well remembered. If it is of interest to anyone the French were driven away by farmers with pitchforks, the locals celebrate a festival every year to a stocky woman named “Jemima” who is supposed to have chased away several French soldiers alone.

    As always there is a good dose of exaggeration in the various versions of the story, but knowing the local Welsh girls of this area anything’s possible.

  30. Michael

    How about doing a dedicatory episode in memory of the late Mr Cronin???

  31. Cameron Reilly

    Michael, I hadn’t even heard the news that Vincent Cronin has passed away. Thanks for letting us know. We were even talking about trying to get him on the show last year but decided he was probably a bit too old. I like the idea of a dedicatory episode as it was his book that got me started on this path.

  32. ian

    Hi Cameron, i have just found out about podcasts (very behind the times i know)and as i love the napoleonic wars i was overjoyed to find your podcast.I am still in Egypt at the moment and loving every moment and the best bit is i have over 50 episodes to catch up.Thank you for making my working day fly by and keep up the great work.

  33. Mark in Kentucky

    First off let me say thank you Cameron, David, and Nick for taking the time to share your extermely interesting insights on Napoleon and his times. I must admit I start everyday checking to see if another gem of a podcast is added to this growing wealth of historical knowledge. The last couple of episodes dealing with Haiti and Ireland have served greatly to place a context upon the napolenic world at large and the Emperor’s influnce in it. To this end perhaps on your next show you guys could touch on the impact Napoleon and his ideas held on cultural contemporaries such as Beethoven and Emerson? Many thanks and keep them coming…

  34. Rene

    I’m new to your podcast and was trying to do some research on some of the unfamiliar terms you used. I must be abysmally inept at spelling. Can you help me out? I’m looking for (spelled phoneticlly) Chu Honore and Von Day.



  35. Matt.V.

    Hi Cameron and David,
    Just found this little gem on the web and listened to all episodes. Really loved it and have to compliment you guys on the great work you’ve done. Also really like special guests Stark and Mikaberidze. I would have to say that this show is right up there with the best of em in history podcasting, together with juggernauts like The History of Rome (Mike Duncan), and the Lars Brownworth stuff.

    I really hope you guys get to making a new episode again, would be a darn shame if ep58 was to be the last one ever.

    Cheers! Matt, NL

  36. Alicia


    I’ve just started listening to the poscasts (I’m upto episode 13!) and am completley enthralled. I was wondering where the first five episode’s have gone to? the first one on the page is number 6!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We Love To Hear From Our Listeners.

Get in touch with us!