born in Dungiven Co Derry the son of a Presbyterian minister, after
qualifying as a lawyer, he began to write for The Nation becoming
its editor in 1847. His militant outlook led to conflict with more
moderate nationalists, causing him to leave later that year.
He founded his own newspaper
The United Irishman, experiencing the famine first hand, he exhorted
the people to revolution. In May 1848 he was convicted of treason
and sentenced to transportation. While on the ship he wrote his
much acclaimed Jail Journal which was published in 1845, after his
escape from Van Dieman's land the previous year.
He was active on the Confederate
side in the American Civil War, and later was involved with the
fenians in Paris.
Returning to Ireland in 1875,
after first being disqualified as an un-discharged felon, was elected
MP for Co Tipperary. He died shortly afterwards in Newry Co Down.